Sometimes I think back to when I was new to presenting and how hot and flustered I felt every time I stepped up to give a presentation. That was over 10 years ago and today I thrive on any opportunity I can get to present to people. I would literally do it all day every day if I could!
So how did I go from all hot under to collar to nice and relaxed presenter who enjoys the process? Here are my top 3 tips for all new presenters.
1. Understand what Fear is
My biggest tip is one that I still use today. Although I enjoy presenting I do still feel a little fear and there’s always a little devil on my shoulder making me aware of what could go wrong! They usually start to get very vocal a week or so before I’m presenting somewhere, but instead of freaking out when that little devil speaks to me I have learned to really pay attention to them. You see fear is actually our brains self defence mechanism, it’s there to tell us something is coming that we need to prepare for and if we don’t the fear will grow until it’s completely unbearable.
When I feel fear a few weeks before a presentation I know I should act straight away and schedule in some dedicated preparation time (see my third point below). When I feel fear right before I’m about to present I can confidently tell it to pipe down and be quiet because I’ve done my prep, I’ve rehearsed, and I’m confident about what I’m going to deliver.
Even then though there is still a little fear, and this is just fear of the unknown. When you’re presenting to a room full of people in a new environment anything could happen. Your technology could fail, you could get a heckler, you could leave the house without putting your trousers on and end up presenting in your pants! There isn’t much point getting worried about the unknown, and if it helps take a pointer I heard from speaker David McQueen once, “Anything can go wrong when you’re on stage, but you probably aren’t going to die!”
2. Be authentic
Some people are naturally funny, whilst others are extremely serious. I fall somewhere in between that spectrum and whilst I’d never make a good standup comic I know that every now and then I can say something a little humorous and it doesn’t feel like I’m forcing myself to make people laugh. This is me being as authentic as I can be when communicating with people, and it really helps me build rapport with my audience members and for them to relax into my presentation. Your authentic presentation style takes time to develop but my biggest tip is to not force anything. Don’t feel like you have to present like Steve Jobs, he had his own style and that was him being authentic.
Be yourself and this will put you and the audience at ease.
3. P yourself!
Not literally, that would be embarrassing! What I really mean is PREPARE yourself. This links closely to my first point about fear telling you something scary is approaching. When it comes to designing and delivering a winning presentation you need to:
For some reason we ignore the fear telling us something is coming, we don’t prepare enough and then we leave our presentation design right up until the last minute. Then there is an increased risk of things going wrong, the experience will be even more nerve wrecking, and you likely won’t win the hearts and minds of the audience. Don’t underestimate the value of planning ahead of your presentation.
Ice ice baby
So to stay as cool as Vanilla Ice sipping a slush puppy just follow these simple tips. Presenting can be such an amazing experience and it doesn’t need to be scary at all. Just reframe how you see fear, be yourself, and be prepared.