If there’s a phrase you hear a lot, it’s ‘you need to show up more…
People often think I have always been a natural presenter, because I do it all the time (and I love it). While my mother will confirm I was always a show off, I wasn’t a natural speaker at school. In the ancient days of my early school years we’d read around the circle, and my heart rate would beat very quickly in fear that I would make a fool of myself when it was my turn. I was so scared I’d make a mistake.
Now speaking is as natural as breathing (and more natural than running or riding a bike!), and my biggest hindrance is challenging and fixing the bad habits that can creep in when you become competent at something. I have been making it my practice to really focus on the parts I’m weakest at and deliver better and better training, facilitation and presentations out of it.
As I re learn, I have found there are seven key areas that can make a presentation go really well
1. Know you know what you are talking about. Preparation is key. Read it through, know it, and know you are confident in standing by what you say.
2. Write down and remember the outcomes you want from your presentation. Give yourself a good business outcome, but also give yourself an outcome around personal development (are you speaking with confidence? are you staying on track? did you make people laugh at the beginning?)
3. Start standing. It makes you feel more confident, and even if you sit down later, you’ve established that you are meant to be the person they listen to. Take charge of the listening space.
3. Listen to the “feel” of the room before you begin. You can learn this if it’s not a natural talent. Are people looking at you, and waiting expectantly? Take in their body language and attitudes – but remember, anything you feel from them isn’t about you- it’s about them (because you haven’t started yet!)
4. Make them laugh early. If need be, be self depreciating. Making fun of yourself helps people bond with you- and stop seeing you as the “telling us what to do” person. It’s appealing. A laugh early warms them to you, and helps them to relax and it helps you relax too.
5. Find the nodders in the room. They love anything anyone does- they just want to encourage you. Make eye contact with you as they will help you build your confidence. Just remember nodding doesn’t mean they want to buy what you are selling, it just means they are being encouraging. Often the most steel-faced person in the room is the person who calls the shots.
6. Let your awkwardness shine through – if you don’t love presenting – then own that. You can tell people you love the details, more than delivering them. Be proud of what you are best at.
7. Please, for the love of all that is good in this world… STICK TO YOUR TIME LIMIT or even better speak for shorter than your allocated time.
7. Create an opportunity to ask for feedback on a regular basis and apply it. My rule of thumb is – if one person mentions it I hear it, if two people mention it I take notice, if three people mention it I change it
Of course I’d love to help you develop and present confident, business changing presentations if you are still stuck – contact me if you need help in this area. Otherwise- go out and communicate better.