I remember those sleepless nights.
I remember my heart pounding.
I remember the heat coming from my beetroot red face.
I remember my first presentation well… A total nightmare.
Here are 11 confidence-boosting steroids I wish I knew when I did that first presentation.
1. Remember that your slides are like fake boobs
Before you bang out any bullet points, let me explain something.
Your slides are like fake boobs.
It doesn’t matter how good they look, if you there is no substance behind them (no personality) then they’re just window dressing.
Doesn’t matter how much lipstick you put on a pig, it’s still a pig.
ln other words, make sure your presentation stands on its own. If it can’t then the slides just become something that temporarily distracts from your shallow delivery.
2. Forget the arbitrary minimums and maximums
You make mistakes when you’re under pressure. It’s natural, we all do.
Being focused on a minimum/maximum time limit or a minimum/maximum number of slides puts you under unnecessary pressure when you are preparing and when you are standing on stage.
Of course, try your best to respect people’s time. But don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by stressing about “Maybe I haven’t spoken enough”, “Maybe I don’t have enough slides”, or “Maybe I have too many slides”.
Just say what you have got to say, get your point across, and wrap up.
3. Positive preparation is key
Here’s a cool trick… When you prepare don’t focus on what might go wrong.
Focus on how you can help the audience.
What can you do for them?
How can you help them?
This positive, outward focus can help to improve your delivery and reduce the jitters.
4. Know your shit
The key to delivering a confident presentation is to know your shit.
When you know everything there is to know about your subject matter you can talk smoothly and confidently.
Instead of focusing on how many stupid bullet points to put on your slides, spend your time getting to know your subject matter in-depth.
Just remember this: When you don’t know your shit, you probably don’t know you’re shit.
5. Stop trying to be a storyteller
Trying to be a storyteller is like trying engage your audience by opening with a knock-knock joke.
Humans are naturally storytellers and so there is either a story there or there isn’t.
If there isn’t a story there you’re going to have to make something up or plug a round story into a square hole. This is a lot of work for a business presentation.
Here’s a tip: If you have an anecdote about what got you to be presenting on this topic, share that as a way to introduce your presentation. If not, forget the story. Open instead by relating the point of the presentation to a need the audience has.
6. Be yourself
The worst thing you can do on stage is try to replicate a performance you’ve seen somewhere else.
Whatever you do, don’t try and mimic some TED talker you saw. You won’t be able to pull it off convincingly enough to look natural.
Instead of mimicry, just be yourself.
There is an amazing thing that happens when you are genuine and be yourself: The audience is drawn to you. And the audience finds it easier to trust you.
7. Open with a push
The first few seconds of your presentation is where the audience is judging you.
They are subconsciously deciding whether they trust you, if you’re confident and credible.
The trouble for presenters is that the first few seconds on stage are the most intimidating.
Take the pressure off by pushing to the audience.
Instead of you being the focus, push the focus to the audience by asking them a question.
If you’re doing a presentation on how to keep your pet caterpillar’s hutch clean, start with a question like:
“Who’s frustrated getting home after a long day and realizing the caterpillar’s hutch needs cleaning again?”
8. Stop mind reading
Newsflash: You have no idea what is going on in the lives of your audience.
Maybe they fought with their spouse this morning. Perhaps their boss has been at them about some missed deadlines. Their kids might be having trouble at school.
The point is, you don’t know their situation.
So, stop interpreting every uncomfortable movement, every glance at the clock, every scowl as an evaluation of your presentation.
Maintain a professional attitude and just deliver your talk.
9. You don’t have to be perfect
Believe it or not you can do an awesome presentation without being perfect.
You can forget your words.
You can stumble.
You can say the wrong thing.
You can pause too long.
It’s not the imperfection, it’s how you handle the imperfection. You see, imperfection is normal. Nothing’s perfect and nothing ever can be.
Think about a regular conversation. We’re not focused on behaving perfectly, we’re focused on having a good conversation.
And that’s exactly what you should do in your presentation.
Take your focus off doing everything perfectly and instead focus on delivering good information to your audience.
10. Make sure you know where you’re going
Before you get on stage make sure you know where you’re going.
What is your goal?
What action do want the audience to take after your presentation?
If you can answer these questions your presentation will flow smoothly because you know what you’re driving at.
What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments below.