Feeling some nervousness before giving a speech is natural and even beneficial, but too much nervousness can be detrimental. Here are some proven tips on how to control your butterflies and give better presentations.
People remember 20% of what they hear…and 30% of what they see…but 50% of what they hear and see in combination.
Here are some strategies to create a memorable and powerful presentation through a combination of great graphics and dynamic delivery…
Don’t tinker with PowerPoint…Yet
Resist the urge to tinker with PowerPoint before your main content is developed. PowerPoint is fun to work with, but can eat up valuable work time. Focus on your content first by developing an outline or script to support your topic.
Use high-impact graphics
Use high-impact graphics in your presentation rather than clip-art to project the most professional image.
Be conservative and consistent with your visuals
Design for your audience. Just because PowerPoint has lots of fun effects, fonts, and transitions doesn’t mean they all need to be used in your show.
Go beyond bullets
Music, video, and animations (all with appropriate rights clearance) can all help make your message more memorable. Beware…multimedia clips may not play correctly on all PCs.
Use a cordless mouse/laser pointer
These nifty controllers un-tether you from the computer and get you into the audience…where good presenters belong. One top performer is the RF presenter, which works from over 100 feet away and includes a laser pointer.
Use humor in your presentation
Laugher helps to keep your audience more alert, involved, and inspired. For best results, use humor from your own life experiences…not from canned jokes or one-liners.
Think of your presentation as a theatrical performance
Think of your presentation as a theatrical performance. Audience interaction, a compelling intro and memorable conclusion, and frequent eye-contact can help fine-tune your talk.
Keep your visuals moving
Don’t stay on the same slide for more than 60 seconds. If you have a bulleted list, provide more breathing space and create more momentum by splitting the points over several slides.
Use a cordless mouse/laser pointer
Use a cordless mouse/laser pointer. These nifty controllers un-tether you from the computer and get you into the audience…where good presenters belong. One top performer is the RF presenter, which works from over 100 feet away and includes a laser pointer.
Dress up and look confident
A great amount of what is communicated in a presentation is actually conveyed non-verbally. The clothes you wear and the gestures you use all have an impact on how your message comes across.
Rehearse and be prepared. Check spelling. Practice using your visuals. Know your content well enough to carry on if your computer crashes!
Strategies for improving your impact on your audience by delivering powerful presentations
Of all the unproven collective ideas about Public Speaking, none is more commonly accepted than the belief that speaking in public causes death by embarrassment. Nothing can be further from the truth! It’s a myth. No coroner has ever been called upon to examine an embarrassed corpse at a lectern. Most people know intellectually that they won’t really die if they speak in front of a group, yet this irrational fear persists.
Here are 9 other myths that, if believed, can cripple the effectiveness of your public speaking style. Dismissing these myths will enable you to have a greater impact on your audience by delivering a more memorable, powerful presentation.
2. Introductions aren’t important.
Introductions are too critical to leave to chance. They prepare the audience for your message. Write your own introduction, and be sure the person who is introducing you pronounces your name correctly.
3. Everyone wants to hear what you have to say.
You know your message is important, but not everyone in your audience is there by choice. Some are there to fulfill an assignment. Many would rather be somewhere else. You need to give them a reason to stay and hear what you have to say.
4. You don’t have to prepare if you’ve given the speech before.
No presentation is ever the same. Each audience is different. Review your notes, practice and refine your information. Over confidence can lead to a sloppy delivery.
5. They’ll listen if you are an expert or their boss.
Probably they will…initially. But unless your style is interesting and your information meaningful, their attention will begin to drift within the first 15 minutes of your talk.
6. A commanding speaker uses the lectern.
You’ll have better rapport and interaction with the audience if there is nothing between them and you. The lectern can be a barrier. It causes you to rely on notes and blocks your gestures. Step out and connect!
7. Your attire should match the occasion.
The speaker should always be dressed a bit more formally than the audience. The first impression is generally a visual one.
8. The facility is prepared to accommodate your equipment.
Don’t assume anything, and don’t leave anything to chance. Be prepared. Ask the staff. Check the equipment before you use it. Bring your own things and have back up discs, batteries, bulbs, electric cords, etc. Be prepared for the unexpected.
9. You don’t have to prepare if your presentation lasts less than 10 minutes.
The shorter the presentation the more preparation is needed. You don’t have the luxury of time with a short speech. Your message needs to be succinct, precise and clear.
10. You’ll be nervous forever.
Nervousness usually goes away within the first few minutes of your presentation. This is especially true if you know your material and you are prepared. Perfect practice makes perfect. Things really do get easier!
Strategies for delivering bad news during tough times with good presentations
Whistle while you work! The economy maybe down, but you don’t need to be! If the struggling economy has resulted in the need to deliver some bad news, you will need to communicate with clarity and integrity. Keep in mind that tough economic conditions can be difficult for some companies and people. Regardless of the news, people may be looking for leadership. Your job is to deliver the news. A clear message and presentation, delivered with optimistic leadership, will be helpful and appreciated by your customers, employees and vendors.
Here are some ideas on battling bad times with good presentations…
Delivering bad news
Everyone knows the economy is weak. If you have been impacted, acknowledge the pain, but don’t dwell on it. Instead, focus on the strategy for moving forward. If economic conditions affect your firm and employee lay offs are on the horizon, keep the channels of communication open.
Understand that employees will be concerned about their future. Your job is to keep everyone focused on delivering service or products to your customers. They need to trust that you will be fair and honest with them. A well-thought plan for communicating and presenting information is critical.
Boosting sales in tough times
Never stop selling!!! Even during good times, it’s critical to keep projecting a good company image through marketing and web initiatives. Quality PowerPoint presentations with a clear message and strategy can be a big help. Show people how your products/services can help them today. Show how others are succeeding…or how the competition is doing it. Don’t dwell on the negative; get out there with a dynamic presentation and message.
Inspiring your team
Tough times don’t last… tough people do. You need to be up front with your team and let them know how things stand. Have a strategy and show leadership to weather the storm. Position your team for success and share inspirational messages about the future. Presentations with motivational quotes or dynamic images can rally your team, creating a spirit of unity and focus.
In short, presenting during tough times is a balance of leadership and inspiration. Want some fuel? Pick up a few motivational quote books…visit some inspirational websites…listen to a visionary like Wayne Dyer or Oprah Winfrey to get charged…or speak with an optimistic friend or spiritual leader to be infused with inspiration. Your words can help put the “spin on dim,” turning a dark situation into a bright opportunity.
Will Flower is former Director of Communications at Republic Services, a national waste management firm based in Phoenix, Arizona.
Seven proven tips to help you overcome nervousness and become a better speaker.
Being a powerful communicator has a tremendous transfer value to everything we do. As a presentation coach for 20 years, I have witnessed transformations going far beyond improved presentation skills, including increased self-esteem, greater self-confidence and an increased desire to tackle other challenges. I have felt the debilitating fear of public speaking, and I also know what it is like to bask in the applause. Here are seven proven tips to help you control your presentation jitters and make those annoying butterflies fly in formation…
It’s Good to be Nervous
Every speaker I know gets nervous before speaking. Being nervous means you care about giving a good presentation. Your nervousness produces adrenaline which helps you think faster, speak more fluently, and add the needed enthusiasm to convey your message.
Before and even during your presentation, take a few deep breaths. As you inhale, say to yourself, “I am” and as you exhale, “relaxed.” Just before your presentation, leave the meeting room and go for a walk. Take some deep breaths and give yourself a pep talk.
Involve Your Audience
Ask listeners questions or have them participate in an activity. Keeping your audience actively involved will hold their attention, increase their retention, and reduce your nervousness as your presentation becomes more of a dialogue than a monologue.
Know Your Subject
You must “earn the right” to talk about your subject. Become an authority on your topic and know more than most or all of the people in your audience. The more you know, the more confident you will be.
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
The fear of public speaking often stems from a fear of imperfection. Accept the fact that no one ever gets it perfect and neither will you. You do not have to become Super Speaker, never saying “er” or “uh,” and never losing your train of thought. Be yourself—your audience will appreciate it.
Focus on your Audience and your Message
What you have to say is important! Your audience needs to hear your message. Focus on that, rather than on your nervousness. You can do this!
Practice Out Loud
Question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Answer: Practice! The best way to reduce your anxiety is to rehearse until you feel comfortable. Practicing by yourself is important, but I urge you to also practice in front of a friend, colleague or coach who will give you honest and constructive feedback.
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