So this is what the Peter Principle looked like.
Clive glanced down at his cue cards and gulped.
Why did he accept this position?
He’d been happy before. He’d excelled in his role as a computer programmer and looked forward to a substantial performance-based pay rise every year.
When he’d been offered the role of team leader he was both flattered and excited.
Flattered to have his year-on-year performance recognized.
Excited about what the future held for him and his new team.
Things changed dramatically for Clive shortly after moving into his new leadership position.
Not only was he combating the difficulties of managing a team made up of people who had recently been his peers, now he was also spending most of his time in meetings and trying to build relationships with people he had always disliked.
Even worse, he was required to do regular presentations to the broader firm to talk about his team’s progress.
Clive was jittery at the best of times, but speaking in front of a crowd of people was the limit.
He could never find the right words at the right time. And was self-conscious of his “whisper” voice and beetroot-red face.
As he stood there with his cue cards, waiting for his turn to take the stage, he longed for the good old days. That time when he could hide behind his computer screen and interact with others on his terms.
The audience began applauding and the speaker walked off stage.
Clive was up next.
His legs started to shake and he could feel his ears burning.
The MC called his name and he walked timidly into the bright lights.
Ever felt like Clive?
If you’re not in the habit of speaking in front of groups there’s not much worse than being expected to do a presentation at work.
You want to look confident and knowledgeable, but you don’t really believe that’s what the audience will see when you stand in front on them. You’re sure the audience will see a nervous, red-faced speaker who doesn’t really know their material.
Here are 4 No-BS tricks you can use in your presentation to calm your nerves, speak clearly, and look confident and credible.
1. Have your first line prepared
Your confidence increases when you plan what to say at first.
It’s like striking up a conversation with a stranger… You feel more confident if you have a “line” or a “conversation starter” ready to go.
Before you head out on stage think about what your first line is going to be.
As a bonus, make your first line a question and you’ll take the focus off yourself for a few seconds.
2. Become an SME
There’s nothing more harrowing than doing a presentation about a subject you don’t really understand.
When you don’t understand your subject you end up relying on prompts like bullet points or cue cards.
What if the projector breaks down or your cue cards spontaneously combust?
If you are a subject matter expert… If you know your subject well enough then you can get your main point across even if the projector isn’t working or your cue cards crumble in your hands.
An added benefit is your confidence increases because you reduce your fear of mistakes.
3. Make peace with silence
Instead of filling silence gaps with “err” or “umm” or “ehh”, stick with silence.
Staying silent has a couple of benefits:
First, it makes you look more confident.
Second, it reduces your anxiety because it forces you into a slower, steadier delivery style.
4. Cut the pleasantries
Don’t end your presentation with boring statements everyone’s heard before.
Ending your presentation with “Thank you for your time” is not memorable.
It’s a weak close to your presentation and, like a Boeing 747 that’s just hit the tarmac, your audience are already standing in the aisle ready to file out the door. It’s the “please remain seated until the seat belt sign is switched off” presentation close.
With a boring close, the problem for you is the rush of anxiety you’ll feel at the end of your presentation because the audience are already packing up while you’re still speaking.
What do you think?
Let’s chat in the comments below.