Prepare, prepare, prepare. You can never be too prepared to present. Knowing your presentation through and through can help boost your confidence while easing your fear and anxiety. Preparation does not just include knowing what you are going to say, it also includes how and why you are going to present the information. Here are some tips to help you create an effective speech or presentation and overcome the fear of public speaking.
Open with Confidence
Your opening gives your audience a first impression. Know the audience and the purpose of the presentation. Find out what they might expect from your remarks and what they may already know about the topic. Consider how you will grab the audience’s attention. If you need to deliver bad news, consider ways to connect with the audience from the beginning of the presentation. Be well prepared for the opening because it sets the tone for your entire presentation–leave nothing to chance.
Focus on a Few Key Points
Know the major points you want to make. This will help ease your worry and increase your confidence. Outline the key concepts in your electronic visuals, on a note card, or better still use a memory technique such as stacking so you remember your key points. Avoid trying to memorize your presentation because it will sound canned and stiff and you want it to sound comfortable and real.
Support Ideas with Evidence
It is always important to provide evidence to support your main points. Supporting evidence will reinforce your points to the audience and give you a chance to explain your points more fully.
Close with a Call to Action
This will be the last impression your audience has of you and your presentation. It is important to look at the purpose of the presentation and then determine a proper close. Emphasize the key action or actions that you want the audience to take after hearing your presentation. This serves as a nice summary of your content and assures they leave with a clear direction.
Remember, Anxiety is Normal
Most people have some presentation anxiety. Remember that people who don’t feel some stress may appear to be taking their audience for granted. Replace negative thoughts that creep into your subconscious mind with positive affirmations from yourself and others.
Allow yourself to make mistakes. Do not try to be a perfect presenter. A brief pause to collect your thoughts may feel like eternity, but it’s not. Tell stories from your personal experiences. Conduct your presentations as if you are having a conversation with people rather than talking at them.
Ask for Feedback
You will be surprised how much will be positive. Accept and internalize compliments you receive without minimizing them. Remind yourself about what went well rather than what didn’t. Focus on one or two key improvement areas for the next time. Not ten or twenty.
Prepare for Future Success
View each presentation you give as a development opportunity. Enjoy the experience. Use each presentation as an opportunity to enhance your confidence and skills for the next presentation.