“There are two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.”
Surveys about people’s fears commonly show fear of public speaking at the top of the list, even ahead of death. The mere thought of being the center of attention can be uncomfortable and scary to a number of people; however, it is important to recognize fears are a byproduct of the brain preparing the body to protect itself.
If the thought of speaking leaves you nervous or terrified, then consider five effective tips and tricks others have shared with me over the years to help you nail your next presentation.
1) Gain Allies in the Audience
Each individual presenter is different in their pre-game routine. I prefer to be social with the individuals within my audience, especially if I am new to the group. Building this rapport can be beneficial, especially when engaging the audience during a presentation. It is much easier to ask participants questions when you know their names, or at least when you have some ‘background’ knowledge on select participants.
2) Simplicity is Key
Just last week, I was at a conference where a presenter had a beautifully designed Prezi presentation. However, the presenter did not have a wireless presentation remote, and subsequently had to say ‘next’ three to six times per slide. To make matters worse, there were approximately 35-40 slides during the hour long presentation. Needless to say, the presenter quickly lost the audience.
Another rule of thumb I follow is that I don’t put anything on a slide that would be easier for my audience to read on paper. I remember after a presentation at the National Association of the Deaf Conference, I received an email from Ken Herron, my former VP of Marketing at Purple Communications, saying he was “surprised that it was so text heavy.” Ken was right – my powerpoint wasn’t the framework it needed to be to ‘guide’ my workshop attendees.
3) Relate to Audiences with a Quick, Concise Introduction
Great content on its own is not enough to establish credibility with your audience. Give your audience a reason to listen during your introduction – if the audience realizes you have gone through the process first-hand, they’ll quickly relate to you. Regardless of the audience you are speaking to, an introduction quickly touching on personal experiences or a personal story are effective approaches.
4) Establish Control
After introducing myself and the topic discussed, I let the audience know how I plan to engage with them. Each presenter has their own style, and I prefer not to give my audience the free will to ask questions when they want. Instead, I request participants to hold all questions until the end of the presentation unless they need clarification or further explanation pertaining to a concept discussed.
5) Control Intellectual Property
With the advent of Slideshare and other Web 2.0 based slide hosting services, it has become much easier to share powerpoint presentations with workshop attendees. However, I advise against doing so for several reasons, including to control intellectual property. Instead, I give attendees a watered-down version, or a ‘basic shell’ of my presentation as I often have a number of slides that are proprietary and I don’t give those to anyone. One may think attendees are disappointed, but I’ve found many are pleased they don’t have to sift through multiple slides just to find information they were looking for.
Now get out their share your story and prepared to be amazed!