Presentation Skills – How to Minimize Fear of Speaking During Presentations
Article by Jhon Ford
According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.’Of course doing a presentation in professional circumstances is not the same as doing a best man’s speech or eulogy but the prospect of standing in front of glaring eyes and speaking, no matter the audience or context is for most people, somewhat daunting.So, how to minimize the fear?Well, at the point in time you’re there, in the moment, the trick is in your breathing. This is our best stress buster.But the truth is, if you do the hard work beforehand, your presentations will rock more than now – it just takes some planning and preparation. Yes that’s right, to deliver more effective, persuasive presentations that get the results you want, the old adage that proper planning prevents piss poor performance holds true.Because what then happens is that when you do come to the moment of truth, you can carry with you the appropriate levels of anxiety and tension that re required to perform to your best as opposed to being a bundle of nerves and jitters, with sweat pouring from visible and invisible body parts!Our fundamental belief at Wentworth People is that the most successful, compelling presenters are authentic; they are naturally themselves when in front of others, a bit like if they were having a chat at a dinner party or social function; after all, surely the more we can be ourselves, the more the audience is likely to buy the asset that they’re usually most interested in – the person.And we know from research studies conducted over the years that at least 50% of what persuades an audience is how we say what we say through our non verbal cues (such as eye contact, posture, movement, facial expressions and the clothes we wear), as it is what we say and the tonality with which we say it.We suggest that people take a simple, 3 step approach to planning presentations: start with your audience, then prepare the appropriate messaging and finally practice how you’re going to perform.There is no rocket science in this but we so often forget to do it. In fact, most people, especially when under time pressure (and who isn’t these days), default to the good old powerpoint template and crank out a few charts loaded with words and little thought and then wonder why after the event they haven’t ‘got the sale’. But if you think about it, how on earth can you influence an audience if you haven’t got an intimate understanding of what rocks their world in the first place? Frankly, it’s impossible at worst and pot luck at best.So, do your homework on the audience; then be clear about your single minded purpose / objective and then do your information gathering / research that talks to this singular aim. Organise your thinking into a coherent story …and then finally, rehearse telling the story (ideally with a handful of compelling supporting images to help bring the story to life; remember, a picture paints a 1,000 words).And cometh the hour, safe in the knowledge that you’ve done your homework and pre work, the nerves will be more manageable because you’ll be more confident in yourself.And isn’t that the Holy Grail? To be a confident presenter who is their authentic self when in front of an executive board, team of colleagues or conference hall packed with sales professionals.
About the Author
Jhon Ford is the author of this article. For more information about presentation skills visit http://www.wentworthpeople.com.au/services/pitching-presentation-skills
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