The key to a good presentation is confidence. While some people have a knack for public speaking and giving presentations, it doesn’t come so naturally to others. Fear can keep us stuck, possibly not moving forward in our careers by stepping up and being a presenter. Don’t let that happen to you.
Here are four ways you can look confident when presenting:
The key to doing anything well is doing it often and speaking is no exception. When you’re nervous about a scheduled talk in front of an audience, practice what you’ll say beforehand. To “practice,” means internalizing the content so well that your delivery sounds less like a formal speech and more like a conversation over dinner. Write down your key points. Say it out loud to anyone who will listen. Record yourself to figure out if you’re using the best pacing and pauses. Evaluate the recording. Is your voice clear and at the right volume? Should you vary your tone of voice more? Play with it until your delivery sounds the best it can be.
2. Get Out of Your Head
If you feel nervous, avoid apologizing. Chances are your audience doesn’t even notice. Focus on them, not how you are feeling. Have a glass of water nearby to sip when you need a second to collect yourself. Smile more. Smiling not only relaxes you and makes your voice more pleasant to listen to, it also conveys confidence. You will appear friendly, approachable, and composed.
Try this exercise ahead of your presentation date. Draw three columns on a piece of paper. In column 1, write out your fears. In column 2, next to the first fear, write out the worst thing that could happen. In column 3, next to the same fear, write out the best thing that might happen. Continue until you have written about each fear in column 1. For example, let’s say you fear blanking out when you look at the audience. Worst thing could be people fidget and start reading their phones while they wait for you. Best case is that the audience sees you as a human being like them. The point: get realistic with your fears. Don’t let them run the show.
3. Share Your Gifts
Why are you giving this presentation? What is the message you are sharing? What do you want the audience to walk away with? Consider the information as a gift you are giving to the participants. Be generous with that gift. Your presentation topic may inspire them, offer new ideas, teach or share an important experience. Whatever your message, tap into your desire to freely share it with the attendees. Helping others by sharing our gifts can be tremendously exhilarating.
4. Be Human
Allow your audience to get to know you. They are there to connect with you AND the information you are sharing. Start by connecting with them first. You can do this by storytelling, sharing a personal triumph or trial related to the topic, or share how you came to understand and feel passionate about the content. There are many ways to do this. Get creative.
Study the first few minutes of some TED talks to see how these speakers connected with their audience — including you watching the video! TED speakers are famously trained and coached many, many times before they step out onto the stage. How did they connect with you? Try it and see if it feels right to try it in your presentation.
By looking confident, you silently give your audience this message: “I’m credible and know what I’m talking about. I also believe in what I’m saying and so should you.” Needless to say, confidence is not just an asset which is good to have during presentations. It’ll get you places, introduce you to new and interesting people and open up more opportunities for you.
For more ideas, see Toastmaster’s website: Public Speaking Tips
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