Have you ever had to give a presentation and felt overwhelmed with anxiety? Your palms were sweaty, and your voice was a quivering whisper? And when it was over you felt like everyone was judging you?
Here are four tips to move from frightened and forgetful to empowered and memorable.
1.) Practice, practice, practice. If you have a tenancy to be a nervous Nelly when you need to present, then practice. Write out what you’re going to say and say it over and over and over. You may be thinking, that’s too much work. Believe it or not, the presentation will start to flow through your fingers at lightning speed. This will make you feel much more confident in your presentation. Once you finish writing it out, say the presentation out loud over, and over again. You don’t have to memorize it verbatim, but do the best you can.Then once you have it, as they say in New York, fogettaboutit! Let it rest within you. Not only will this technique help you develop the presentation and give you confidence, you will also have it written out; and in the future you may want to reuse the presentation, refer back to it, or use it as an article for a magazine.
2.) Be an Actor! Take a note from the acting community. Actors present and perform, and if you want your presentation to pop you’ll need showmanship. The face, body, emotions and voice are the actors tools. Focus on using one of these tools each time you practice and OVER EXAGGERATE! Say your presentation out loud in front of a mirror and get goofy. Move that face, and just focus on the face. Don’t want to stand in front of a mirror? Fine. Practice your presentation to your dog. Dogs are great audiences, because they respond to facial and vocal expression very well.
3.) Breath and Be Present! When you stand to deliver, stop, stand, breath, and appreciate the moment, then present. It is so easy to focus on the content of the presentation, and forget to live in the moment when presenting. You worked hard to get to this point, take your time to appreciate the moment. It is said that one of the things that makes sports players like Michael Jordan great is their ability to slow time during the game and be 100% present in the game and aware of everything going on around them. Don’t fear the silence, the gaps, the audience, don’t fear that you’ll forget any of the presentation. Silence is good, it adds dramatic effect, so appreciate the significant pause and breath.
4.) Believe in Yourself! Okay, that might sound silly, but I assure you, at that moment, the moment we present, that’s the one thing we most frequently forget. A sage improv genius, James Thomas Bailey, once taught me a great lesson when he said to stop worrying about what they think of you because “THEY DON’T CARE!!!” At the time I thought this was harsh, but as he went on, it made perfect sense. “They are so worried about themselves that they don’t have time to really care about you”. How very true! So stop worrying about what “they” think, they really aren’t judging. Even if they are , it just doesn’t matter, so focus on being the best you!
Next time you have a big presentation, or event a 30 second elevator pitch, practice these tips. With practice, a bit of dramatic flair, being present, and belief in your abilities you’re presentation will grab your audience attention and leave them wanting more.