Tips to help with Presentations
Do you get nervous presenting? Do you spend the entire time whilst waiting to perform panicking, sweating, shallow and fast paced breathing or practising your speech over and over in your head? Either way you’re barely listening to anything else going on around you, everything is focused on you – trying to keep you calm, focused, and minimising the pressure you’re placing on yourself to perform.
I’m this person, I’m entirely terrified of standing up and having no clarity, complimented by a lack of incoherent thoughts and being unable to translate anything into grown-up speech and worse still, boring everyone and having no hope of holding the crowd.
I should be excellent in my position and with my background, And surely, with all the sales courses, pitches, self-help and training I’ve had I should be on the TED talk stage!
I thought it fitting to share some of the more realistic and productive tips to help with presentations I’ve been given over the years to see if it can help you more than it has me!
- Have an elevator pitch at the ready – and have it very well-practiced (an elevator pitch is a short, sharp couple of sentences that explain why people should do business with you (derived from ‘if you were in a lift with Richard Branson / A.N.Other business mogul, what would you tell them about your business/you?’)
- Always have the first sentence of your presentation ready and prepared. If you get up and go blank this first sentence will really help get you back on track.
- There is a lot to be said for breathing… It’s entirely underrated and we make so little effort with it when we really should be doing it properly. Every course and training session I’ve been on focuses on the breathing. Slow, deep inhale, so your chest puffs out a bit and being conscious of your breathing really helps calm your body down physically so can rid you of the sweaty palms, twitchy hands, dry mouth and anxious heart pounding in your head thing you may have going on. If you need help count to 10 on each breath in and then again on out.
- Silence is golden. Don’t be afraid to stop, pause and collect your thoughts at the end of a paragraph during your presentation. This not only refocuses you but re-engages the audience and gives them a moment to digest what you’ve just said.
- Nice knickers and shaved legs… Or clean pants and a good wash if you’re a guy. Being presentable not only makes people warm to you and not focus on your negatives (and as much as any trainer has told me this isn’t what people do, I know it’s a lie – we’ve all silently critiqued the poor bastard standing presenting to us instead of hanging on every word he utters!) it subconsciously makes you feel better and more confident, even if you don’t realise it! So, having a new top on or polishing your shoes, whatever you need to do, do it is and as much of it as you can do to ensure your are perfectly groomed and presentable!
- SMILE! People want to like you, and on the whole they are really interested to hear what you’ve got to say. Smiling not only makes a connection between you and your audience it will also help relax your face and in turn your mood. Smiling is so underrated in our opinion.
- Watch the big politicians and public speakers. Loads of them hold their hands together or press their fingertips together, this focuses your energy and helps curb the shakes and sweats
- Practice. Practice. Know your shit. If you know your subject matter you can wing any presentation or talk…
Failing all of these tips I’ve been crippled with nerves during one presentation before and found myself in the loo downing a miniature gin before going on… It didn’t touch the sides, I still cried after it and I still flunked the presentation, but the gin helped me laugh about it after… a long time after!