Nothing worse than attending a meeting at work where someone will do a presentation.
Correction!… There is something worse!
It’s worse when it’s your turn to do the presentation.
Panic sets in.
You think about all those crappy presentations that have gone before you and how you judged them.
Now it’s your turn to be judged.
What are you going to say? How are you going to look? And how are your colleagues, juniors, and superiors going to evaluate your performance?
Avoid the panic and the sleepless nights with these 5 easy steps to do a confident, fear-free presentation your colleagues will be impressed by.
1. Pretend you don’t have slides
If you’ve ever watched a crappy presentation, and I’m sure you have, you might have noticed a strange behavioral change in the presenter.
The change occurs at the exact transition point from presentation to question handling session.
When I first started training people, I thought that the change was caused by relief to move to a reactive phase of presenting. The presenter could move from reciting their lines to responding to audience questions, which gives some breathing space and thinking time.
I later realized the reason is much more simple.
It is because the presenter moves from a practiced script or prompted talk, to speaking about what they know in a natural, unpracticed manner (after all, the presenter can’t predict the questions they will be asked and have to respond the way they would to any other question in any other situation).
If you want to deliver a confident, fear-free, and natural presentation you need to put yourself in the second mode throughout the entire presentation. Let’s call it the reactive Q&A mode.
The way to do this is to start by pretending you won’t be using slides.
If you’re not using slides in your presentation then you have no choice but to understand your subject matter well. When you understand your subject matter well you can talk about it in a confident and natural manner.
Step 1 is to understand your subject matter well.
2. Draft a plan of threes
It is difficult for most people to deliver a confident business presentation because, with so many demands on our time, its tough to remember all those lines.
As we stand on stage and struggle to remember our lines our talk suffers.
We stare at the ceiling.
But, we can avoid all of this discomfort in a super easy way.
If you’ve completed step 1, and know your subject matter well, the next step is to draft your talking points.
Outline your three main talking points.
Use one or two keywords for each talking point so that they’re easy to remember.
Now that you know your subject matter well, and you can easily remember your three talking points, your speech becomes much easier.
Check out my article on memorizing your speech for more on this method.
3. Practice with an outward focus
If you want to deliver a confident, fear-free presentation you’ll have to do things differently to the 99.9 percent of other presenters out there.
Most presenters focus on themselves.
My worry about being judged.
Me, me, me, me, me!
If, instead of looking inward, you focus on the audience, you achieve two big things:
- You relax because you stop questioning how people are evaluating you
- You deliver a better presentation because you are more audience-focused
Here’s how to focus on the audience:
Practice delivering your presentation from the subject matter that you know well.
Deliver your three talking points couched with an opening and a call to action.
As you practice, each time your mind goes to how you are personally feeling, immediately change your mindset. Change your mind to think from the perspective of the audience. What can you do to help the audience get more from your presentation?
4. Design slides to support your talk
The golden rule of good slide design is to design your slides last.
Most people design their slides upfront and lock themselves into delivering their presentations the way they initially built their slide deck.
Give your presentation the best chance of a fluid, natural, impactful style by designing your slides last so they support what you already know you are going to say.
5. Forget perfection and mistakes
You know what makes us confident to talk our friends or colleagues in a one-on-one situation?
We not constantly striving for perfect communication.
We sometimes make mistakes, and we ignore them. Because making mistakes is normal.
It’s normal to forget a word or mispronounce something or get mixed up.
When we make mistakes in regular conversations or business discussions we just correct and continue.
This is exactly how we should deal with perfection and mistakes in our presentations.
We should avoid seeking to be perfect, because we will never get there. The likelihood is the more we try to be perfect the worse we’ll perform.
We should avoid worrying about making mistakes. Accept that mistakes will happen and commit to correcting and moving on when they do.
What do you think? Let’s chat in the comments below.