Presenting With Impact Not Fear
I recently read an article where Forbes quoted that when it comes to presenting 10% of people love it, 10% are genuinely terrified, and the remaining 80% are anxious but can get through it. Clearly the majority of us struggle with presenting, yet this skill is exceedingly important to your long-term success and ability to influence others. So how do we get passed this? Presenting is a learned skill, and not something that you can just wing. It takes discipline and practice to do it well. Below are the top ten tips I believe will help you get comfortable:
1. Remember that you are the presentation not the PowerPoint! The PowerPoint is there only to reinforce the verbal message you are sending.
2. Have a story to tell. If you aren’t clear on what you are trying to say the audience won’t be either.
3. The Rule of Three. Distill down what the top three points are that you are trying to convey and build your presentation from there. People won’t remember more than that.
4. Connect emotionally with the material. You must convey passion for the subject that you are presenting.
5. WIIFM- What’s in it for me? You have to be able to answer this question for the audience. If you can address what matters to them you will gain their interest.
6. Grab their attention early – How you start your talk matters. Ask them a question pertaining to the subject. It sends the message that they are going to be active participants and it will calm you down because you will be connecting with them.
7. KISS- Keep it Simple….. Less is more on the slides. It should only take 3 seconds for the audience to understand the message you are trying to convey visually. If the graphic doesn’t meaningfully support your message get rid of it.
8. Tell them- tell them what you told them and tell them again. Research suggests it takes 7 times for people to retain information. Repetition of key points is critical to audience retention.
9. Don’t leave your personality outside the door. People relate to authenticity. Make sure that you smile and show the audience who you are as a person.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice – Find your number. That is the number of times you need to practice before you can honestly say you feel confident when you walk in that room.
I believe that everyone has the ability to present well. If you are willing to devote the time and practice utilizing these tips you will see improvement. Most of all, I hope you learn to enjoy the experience that presenting can offer. Being able to influence an audience and convey meaningful information that makes an impact is a very gratifying experience both personally and professionally.