A must read if making presentations give you sleepless nights!
4 minute read
Sleepless the night before, anxiety stricken the next day, cold sweat breaking on your forehead - does this sound like you as you make your way into a room ready to make a presentation to a bunch of decision makers?
Coming under the spotlight and presenting your ideas to any group of people can be nerve-wracking. What if I don’t remember all the key points? Or end up delivering a lengthy monologue? Or worse, find someone yawning in third row nodding off to sleep? Such questions are pertinent.
Hence, we have come up with some handy tips that will be a sure-shot way to tackle those jitters and make sure that you and your ideas come out with flying colours.
Come Early, Really Early
Make this the thumb rule: you have to be the first one to arrive. There is no room for fumbling with powerpoint or hooking up a projector when your audience is waiting for you to speak. Reach early, set your system up, run through your presentation and make sure there won’t be any glitches. If you are prepared, you will automatically do away with a lot of anxiety.
The foremost thing to remember is to know your audience. Quite often, most of our waking hours while preparing for a presentation are spent on creating speaker centric content: what are my ideas, how best to present them and how to make sure that the audience is convinced. Do you truly understand how high the stakes are - you are asking decision makers to accept your ideas which might involve abandoning a belief they might hold true. This is indeed difficult. Flip the table and take a walk in your audience’s shoes. Know who your listeners are, do research about them, their backgrounds, their career trajectory. By flipping the paradigm to an audience-centric approach, you will, in turn, create a presentation that is aimed at a solutions-centric approach rather than singularly idea-centric.
Bury The Clichéd
How many time have you put the icon of a handshake in front of a globe to mean partnership? Or the arrow in the middle of a bullseye to convey a target-centric approach? Do you really want to be a part of a herd of millions who do the same or have a wish to stand out? The choice is yours. Think, Rethink and be Innovative. As Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen says that the purpose of a presentation is to be a mnemonic device for the audience so they can remember what you had to say. They’re not just a teleprompter for the speaker. Think about the points you’re trying to make and brainstorm individual moments that you’re trying to emphasize. Think to the second, the third, the fourth idea — and by the time you get to about the tenth idea, those will be the more clever memorable things for the audience.
“That’s a Good Question”
Statements such as, “that’s a really good question,” or “I’m glad you asked me that,” will surely help you to buy some time to organize your thoughts and responses when posed with difficult questions. We definitely don’t want to be in the zone of um’s and ah’s or worse complete silence. The best part of this trick: your audience won’t know that you are using these filler sentences to reorder your thoughts.
15 Word Summary
Can you summarize your idea in fifteen words? We know it might be difficult but give it a try. Write and rewrite till you get the hang of it. As curator Chris Anderson in his new essay in The Harvard Business Review states that this summary will help you make the boldest impact of the presentation. It’s a human tendency that after a long presentation, the audience may not remember the pivotal points that will help them in making the decision. It’s your job to remind them and leave behind a lasting impact with the closing statement.
Yes, we understand that there are high stakes involved. Investors/key decision makers are sitting across the table and the idea that you have cherished, maybe for years, could be broken or made depending on your presentation. But you have got to take that plunge, haven’t you? So, why not embrace it the best way! Nancy Duarte, author of The Harvard Business Guide to Persuasive Presentations and a noted TedX speaker says, “I recommend doing some breathing exercises — breathe in as deep as you can, and then take a couple more big gasps. Then, release it really slowly. That calms my heart down. Doing this, I feel the chemistry in the whole body changes. That’s a really great way to stop fright and face your audience.”
If there are any other additional effective tips that can help in acing that presentation, then surely hit us in the comments section below and we will feature it in our next article.