How do you take the fear out of the presenting experience? Veronika Svabova has some handy tips.
To some, public speaking seems to come frustratingly easily, but for the majority of us it’s a daunting task we’d rather avoid. Unfortunately, in most professional careers everyone will, at some point, be required to deliver a presentation, and for some this could be a regular task and presentations will often have to be delivered in front of a large audience.
If this is going to be a major part of your role, your employer will ideally equip you with presentation skills training, but otherwise you may have to fend for yourself on this front.
If you’re among those who prefer written communication to public speaking, here are the some great tips for making the best of an undesirable task. Remember that it won’t always invoke this much dread in you; with time and practice you can become a confident and engaging public speaker.
The key to delivering a high-quality presentation is the content of what you say, but this can add unnecessary amounts of pressure for someone who despises public speaking. Having material to back you up is usually a great way to give you a confidence boost, and to ensure clarity to your audience in case you stumble with your words.
If you feel confident in yourself, you’re much more likely to come across as confident in giving your presentation.
Your resources could be statistics to prove your argument, diagrams to explain your ideas or a whole host of other things. As long as they are completely relevant to your oral content, they are usually worth including.
Using long, complicated words and industry-specific jargon might first seem like an impressive idea but often has the opposite effect when you struggle to pronounce a certain term or lose your flow when concentrating too hard on vocabulary.
For your own sake, as well as for that of your listeners, keep the language simple and straightforward. This will allow you to focus more on delivery, which is bound to achieve greater engagement from your audience.
If you feel confident in yourself, you’re much more likely to come across as confident in giving your presentation. Dressing professionally can make you feel like you know what you’re talking about, and if you can convince yourself of this you can certainly convince everyone else.
On a more fundamental level, it’s generally just easier to stand up in front of people when you’re not worried about your appearance, so be sure you feel both professional and comfortable; so much so that you’ve stopped thinking about it.
There are plenty of things to worry about when giving a presentation, and arriving early is the best way to eliminate the vast majority of them.
Getting stuck in traffic will seem a lot less stressful if you have plenty of time to spare, or you won’t need to panic about the photocopier not cooperating with your handouts if you have time to go and use the one on the next floor or come up with an alternative solution.
Excuse me for stating the obvious, but even presentation skills training courses can’t emphasise this enough. Sometimes things sound funnier, more powerful or altogether different in your head than when you say them out loud.
If you have a constructively critical audience, all the better, but practising to yourself is still more helpful than you probably realise. This will also help to iron out any creases with stumbling in your speech, which could throw you off guard unexpectedly.
Following these simple tips should help reduce your fear of presentations, but for those who require professional help, enrolling on a presentations skills training course such as those offered by Thomson Reuters Foundation could be a worthwhile investment of both your time and money.
About the author
Veronika Svabova is a freelance writer.