The thought of an upcoming presentation can give even the most high-profile public speaker anxiety and nerves (Richard Branson, anyone?). Public speaking is frequently cited as our biggest fear – it doesn’t matter how high up you are in the organisation. But there are some tips and techniques you can learn to help you manage this fear and still pull off a winning pitch.
Tips and techniques to pull off that winning pitch:
Share your passion
Why do you care about what you are presenting and why should your audience be passionate too? Let your personality and passion shine, give the audience more than a report. When you’re into what you are saying then it’s easy for everyone else to be into it as well.
Create a presentation that tells an emotional story, use images that match your words. It’ll make you feel good, quell those nerves, appear authentic and influence your audience into action.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
When you’re not adequately prepared, you’ll make mistakes and focus too much on the butterflies in your stomach than on what you’re actually presenting. Prepare and practise your presentation over and over again, out loud, not just in your head.
Be prepared to deliver on the spot with no speaker notes. This will also give you an accurate idea of timing. Rehearse in as many different environments as possible until you are really comfortable with what you are saying. The more you know your presentation, the better your delivery will be.
When I first started presenting I froze. I would literally stop breathing and the oxygen stopped flowing into my brain so I had no idea where I was or what to say next. Learn to breathe under stress – deep down into your stomach not high up in your throat as you restrict your voice and your oxygen flow.
I learned from Dr Louise Mahler that if your voice starts to crack and you feel like you need water – it is actually your ‘drowning’ reflex kicking in because you are allowing your fear to take over. So, if you’re struggling, take a deep breath and smile.
When you smile, you relax. When you smile, you look like you’re enjoying yourself. People smile back and they enjoy themselves. When we are warm, open and ‘authentic’ on the stage your audience will mirror that response back. It doesn’t matter what technical difficulties you experience, above all else, the one thing you do want to be remembered for is your smile.