Studies show that many people have more fear of public speaking than of dying. Whether you’re giving your first presentation or your 100th, these tips will help you give less fearful, more powerful presentations.
1. Plan, Prepare, and Practice.
The first step is to plan your verbal presentation – what you’re going to say. If you’re stuck on planning a talk, use this formula: Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them. Once your presentation is complete – practice, practice, practice. Know your talk so well you could give it in your sleep.
2. Focus on your visual presentation.
The visual aspect of your presentation is the most important in getting your message across. It includes your body language, gestures, facial expression, eye contact, appearance, and visuals such as PowerPoint – all of what the audience sees.
The people in your audience will form their first impressions of you when you walk into the room. So dress for success and appear confident and friendly, even if your knees are knocking.
3. Use variety in your vocal presentation.
The second most important aspect is your vocal presentation – how you use your voice. Vary your pace and don’t forget the all-important PAUSE. Pause before and after you make a point; it makes your listeners’ ears perk up.
4. Use notes, but don’t read or memorize.
When you prepare a talk, you should think of what you want to say and say it aloud. Then write a phrase or some key words that will remind you of what you want to say. Type a twenty-minute talk on one or two sheets of paper with just notes that guide you to the next point.
If you’re going to allow for questions and answers, do them before closing your talk. You want to leave them with your strongest point and call to action.
5. Tell stories.
Tom Peters said, “”The best leaders…almost without exception and at every level…are master users of stories and symbols.”” And, of course the best leaders are the best speakers.
Tell them the story of how you got your children to turn off lights, save water, and recycle. Your stories should be personal and related to a point you’re making. They’ll relate to and remember you for it. And stories just make your presentation a lot more personal and interesting.
6. Control your fear of public speaking.
A little nervousness is a good thing – it keeps you on your toes and gives you energy. Just don’t let it show.
There are only two reasons to be nervous. One, you’re putting too much importance on what people think of you (ego). Think of what you can do for them instead. They want you to do a good job; they’re not sitting there judging you unless you’re awful. Your presentation is for them – not you.
The other reason – a legitimate one – to be nervous is if you’re unprepared. There’s no excuse for this. People don’t mind if you make mistakes or lose your place, but they do mind if you bore them or show a lack of concern for them by not being prepared.
Hopefully, these steps have given you some ideas on improving your presentation skills.”