“Stage fright go away…this is my big day”.
Age 17. First presentation. Still remember the nervousness, the anxiety attacks, the trill once it was over.
Audience…well blank n expressionless. Instructor…hmm…judging by her feedback, I think knew what I spoke about or maybe I am just fooling myself.
While the journey did give me some bumpy rides. I did learn the art of being a decent speaker; can’t say great, let the listener’s be judge of that.
Sharing a few of my experience and avoidable pitfalls:
Topic – Understand your topic… Eyes rolling duh! everyone knows that. Yes but then…
Technical presentation. Confusing IT terms. Couldn’t recollect one particular technical name, went blank, lost my nerve & there after the presentation went downhill. Lesson learn’t: Do not underestimate the power of a single word. Even if you think it is irrelevant it can turn into a pain in the neck.
Practice..Practice..Practice—No amount of practice is enough. Standing in front of mirror, observe your expressions, make voice modulations. High/low pitch, slow/fast..pauses..work on you’re A’s and AAA’s between words and sentences.
Body language – Fidgeting is a sign of nervousness, so consciously stop it. Some stand at one place and keep swinging, not good. Too much hand movement, distracts the audience.
One of my shortcoming, my hands were usually all over the place. I kept a wireless presenter or pen which controlled them. Hand movement is good but it shouldn’t be so much that it looks like you are trying to fly.
Audience – If possible know who your listeners are going to be. Helps in customising. People from finance obviously love numbers and if it’s marketing then slogans, jingles or around their 5 P’s works well..
Punch Lines — Have an impactful start to grab attention and an impactful end to remember you by. Humour works, but keep the jokes on you not on your listeners. Interactive sessions the best. Haven’t used it, but have read storytelling has its pluses.
Visual slides: Crisp, bulleted and not explanatory, they are for your audience not you. Videos with live demos very good. I have seen listeners perk up on slides with numbers or statistics, it’s almost like they are thinking now she’s making some sense.
Be yourself: After my first presentation, instructor said I was “too stylish”. No idea back then what she meant. But later on I realised I was fast; to make an impact used too many jargons and in need of dictionary english words, making listeners not understand.
Aha! So that’s why they were so blank!
Anyway, listeners loves a sincere speaker. So just be yourself but keep that eye contact with everyone to assert your confidence.
N now…Take a deep breath. Go in with style, we are all ready…so just smile.