Monday, March 12, 2012

How to Ace Your Presentations Pt. 4 (the scary part)

Study Tipping Tuesday

How to Ace Your Presentations Pt.4 (the scary part)

So now you've outlined your presentation, made it entertaining, and created the right "background" music. It's time to actually give the presentation.

Why is public speaking so scary? I think it's because we are so vulnerable. We are putting ourselves out there and it feels awkward having everyone looking at you, judging you.

But the truth is? People really enjoy hearing other people speak when they do it genuinely. And even when they mess up, people don't really look down on them. Think about it...have you ever watched someone give a presentation and thought less of them afterwards? Probably not. And if you did, you probably forgot about it instantly and went back to thinking about yourself. It's what we do. 

So the good news is, there really isn't as much to be afraid of as you think. Although, I know that doesn't help much. Because those nerves will still come. 

How do I know? Because I still get slightly nervous every time I speak, and I'm one of the rare ones who actually enjoys public speaking and have had quite a bit of experience. The trick is to tell yourself that nerves are exciting - that before the biggest adrenaline rushes there are always a bit of nerves.

Remember your first roller coaster? 

So #1: Embrace your nerves and let them be a reminder that you are about to do something daring. You are about to accomplish something important. 

#2: Practice your speech using notecards with just a few words on them. Ever heard someone read a speech? It is so boring. It is much more interesting to hear someone speak using their natural cadence and a conversational style. I do not recommend trying to memorize or read speeches word for word. Instead, transfer your outline to a few notecards with just a few words each, and talk out your presentation to a wall while you time yourself. 

#3: Make eye contact with people as you speak. Do not just scan the room, but hold eye contact with an individual for a few seconds, and then move on to another person. I cannot remember who said this - but I read a long time ago that a speech should always feel like a private conversation that others are listening in on. 

#4: Don't be afraid to mess up and say so. It's way more awkward if you just stand their silently or tell people how nervous you are. That makes the audience nervous and uncomfortable. If you mess up, just say something like "oh I'm sorry I lost my place, just give me a second"). If you're good at it, feel free to make a joke about it. I've seen people make mistakes all the time. If you're genuine about it and move on, you and everyone else will forget about it instantly. 

#5: Use stories to illustrate your point. Why do we love movies and television so much? Stories. We remember stories so much more than facts and information. So whenever you can, share relevant stories to illustrate your presentation points. 

#6: Be yourself. If you are funny, be funny. If you're not, no need to try to be (e.g. you will never catch me trying to be would be a disaster). Are you shy? No need to try to be outgoing. Are you nerdy and proud of it? Don't be afraid to show it. People love speakers who show their true colors and reveal something about themselves that is humble and honest and shows a high level of self-awareness. Being your true self will endear people to you immediately. People are most judgmental of those who appear to be putting on a show. They tend to like those who are honest about who they are and are willing to be vulnerable. Don't be afraid to share a bit of who you are when it is relevant to your presentation. You'll be surprised at how much people will relate with and appreciate you. 

Good luck on your next presentation! I know you'll be amazing. 

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