SOME people feel pretty comfortable standing before an audience to deliver a presentation. For many others it can be quite the opposite and they become a bundle of nerves just at the thought of speaking before a room of people.
One of the challenges is overcoming that fear, that strong feeling of anxiety that grips some to the point that they freeze up and are unable to speak coherently.
Although it may be difficult to completely overcome those nerves, below are five practical strategies you can employ to help restore a feeling of calmness and confidence in yourself.
1. Prepare and practice
Once you have finalised your visual presentation, make sure you set aside time to study the content thoroughly. One way to help you feel more comfortable is to ensure you are very familiar with the subject matter and the messages you are trying to convey.
If your presentation includes a lot of statistics or some critical points you really want to highlight, prepare some brief speaking notes so you can refer to them during the presentation if necessary.
Finally, when you practise, try and visualise yourself presenting in front of your audience, as this may help put you more at ease.
2. Know your audience and engage them
When you’ve accepted the opportunity to deliver a presentation, you will already have an idea about your audience. But it’s worth investigating a little further to understand exactly who will be listening to you, how many people you will be addressing, and what key takeaways those people may be looking for from your presentation.
By arming yourself with this knowledge, you will be able to consider the tone you use, the language you use and the messaging required.
In addition, familiarise yourself with the venue, the layout, the audio visual equipment you will be using, so you are comfortable and not walking into unknown territory.
Also, remember you can engage your audience and involve them in a discussion, which will also put you more at ease.
3. Memorise your opening
Often if you are able to get beyond those first few minutes of your introduction, you will already feel more relaxed.
One way to help smooth your path is to really memorise the early part of your presentation, as you will not only feel more confident but it will also help you make a strong first impression on your audience.
4. Structure your presentation
It almost goes without saying that your speech needs to be organised logically, so that it follows a clear path.
The best way to engage your audience is by having a presentation that doesn’t just throw statistics at them, but actually tells a story. So, like any good story you need to include an introduction, followed by the heart of the story, and close it out with a conclusion. And make your story entertaining!
5. Keep calm and smile
Finally, try hard to remain calm no matter what happens. During the presentation, you may accidentally mix up some slides, or forget to mention a key point at the right time. But don’t panic – you can easily recover and it’s likely most of your audience won’t even pick up on any mistakes.
If you are suddenly feeling anxious, or you lose your train of thought, give yourself a moment to pause and gather your thoughts by having a drink of water – this can help restore calm and put you back on track. And, very importantly, smile – it makes everyone feel good!
This is a weekly column by SarawakYES! – an initiative driven by Faradale Media-M Sdn Bhd and supported by Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) Sarawak – to provide advice and stories on the topics of education and careers to support Sarawakians seeking to achieve their dreams. Join us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.