What is your first response when asked to get up in front of an audience to showcase your expertise?
For some people, giving a presentation is a fun experience, while for others, it can be an intimidating prospect. If you belong to the latter group of people, you’re not alone. Did you know that presenting to an audience regularly tops the list in surveys of people’s top fears? Here’s the good news: public speaking is a skill, which means it can be learned.
Here are a number of tips for giving better presentations that may serve you well.
1. Understand anxiety
It is more common than we think that presenters experience performance anxiety – including highly experienced ones. It’s important to understand these fears, and recognize the biology behind them. Imagine when you are out in the wild and there are countless eyes on you – chances are, you’re in trouble. So it’s perfectly normal to feel anxiety. Instead of going with your fears though, reassure yourself that your audience does not pose a threat – they are here to learn from you.
2. Pause & breathe deeply
When you feel anxious your breathing becomes fast and shallow. This will affect the quality of your voice and your ability to speak clearly. Deep breathing is an effective technique to overcome anxiety as it helps calm your nerves. So before you start your presentation make a conscious effort to slow your breathing down. During your presentation, remember to breathe steadily and deeply and use pauses frequently to give your words a chance to sink in. Pausing for a few seconds also shows the audience that you’re confident and not rushing your material.
3. Practise & be willing to make mistakes
Practising your presentation will also boost your confidence. Stand up and deliver your presentation to get used to hearing your own voice. The more familiar you are with your material the more trust and confidence you will have. This will help you to stay focused and avoid distractions. And most important, be willing to make mistakes. Remember that a great speaker isn’t perfect by any means, but always aims for connection over perfection which is key to authentic communication.
4. Connect with your audience
Making eye contact with individuals in the audience will help you feel less nervous, because you are talking to individuals, not to a great mass of unknown people. Meanwhile, you are building rapport which helps the audience to connect with you and your subject. Making eye contact with your audience gives them a sense of involvement. To create authentic connections, let your humanness show. Tell personal stories and be real. A great speaker creates intimacy which communicates better than any rhetorical genius.
5. Show your passion
Don’t worry about being the best speaker. Instead, show your passion for your topic and and let your enthusiasm come through in your delivery. It is the perfect way to engage your audience. Of course, you need great content and professionally designed visuals. But you won’t have the desired impact on your audience if you do not truly believe in your topic. World class presenters are passionate about their messages and are able to convey that passion to their audiences. So don’t hold back and show on your enthusiasm.
If you are keen to further develop your presentation and public speaking skills, please get in touch. We regularly run workshops and facilitate one-on-one coaching sessions, helping corporate leaders and business owners prepare for presenting at important events.
We trust that our effective presentation framework will help you prepare and deliver a winning and memorable presentation, one that you actually enjoy giving. And of course, we are here to help you achieve more with your presentations. Our team of experts will bring your messages to life – so you get to WOW your audience with your next presentation.
We would love to hear from you – please share your comments, experience and feedback with us.