Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Don't be Scared to Make a Presentation

You’re about to give a big presentation (or be the focal point in a meeting), and your nerves set in. You feel pressure in your chest, your breathing gets shallow, and you hear your heartbeat in your head. And suddenly, it seems inevitable that you’re going to mess this up and everyone will see.

The average person ranks the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of their own death. However, there are ways to conquer your nerves before your next big presentation:

Prepare Thoroughly: The first and most obvious way to calm your fears is to do everything you can to prepare. Nerves are often triggered by surprises. There will always be surprises. However, you can limit their number and impact by researching your topic thoroughly, organizing your thoughts, identifying the key points you want to make, anticipating tough questions, and practicing your delivery. Know your presentation cold.

Give Your Presentation to Another Person: There are plenty of people you can practice on with whom you feel safe and comfortable. Examples of people you can practice on are your spouse/significant other, a friend, relative or coworker. Speaking directly to another person will help you relax, give you confidence and presentation experience, and you will become comfortable receiving questions from someone.

Be sure to tell that person to be completely honest with you in their critique, and to ask you questions after the program. If they have questions about your presentation, it is likely that members of the audience will have the same questions. So, practice giving your answers.

Expect That You May be Looking at Blank Faces: When you’re talking to someone one-on-one, they give physical and verbal cues that they’re listening, such as head nodding and making sounds of agreement. Groups of people don’t always do that. It's not that they are judging you. They’re most likely trying to listen to your presentation. Or, they might simply be in a world of their own.

Imagine Giving the Presentation: Picture every moment of the presentation in detail. Imagine the point of having the meeting turned over to you or being introduced on stage. Think about what that will feel like, how will you launch into your talk, and what the audience will look like. This will make you even more prepared so that your presentation will actually feel like an encore, not a first time occurrence.

Stay Calm and Loose: In most cases, people can’t tell that you’re nervous. If you stumble, act as though it's no big deal or that it didn’t even happen.

Now You are Ready
With proper preparation, you now have to trust that you’ve done all you can to be ready to give your presentation. The likelihood that your worst fears will come true is very slim. And once you get through the first 1-2 minutes, the rest will be easy.

So now consider this... You were asked (and earned the right) to give your presentation because you are the best person to do so. Plus, the audience is there to listen to you for a reason. Enjoy the experience!

I encourage you to leave a comment by clicking on "...comments" below...
David Schuchman