I always get a kick out of so-called presentation skills trainers who say if you’re nervous just talk to the wall in the back of the room. Why not just turn around and talk to the wall behind you. It’s actually closer. You’ll have the same amount of audience contact. Surprisingly some presenters do that when using PowerPoint – they turn their backs on the audience to read the slides. Something we can do for ourselves, provided the font is big enough.
For a successful presentation you need to engage your audience – those are the folks out front, not the screen behind you. Make eye contact – one person at a time. And smile; it makes your audience more comfortable with you, and the return smile – a natural human reflex – gives you reassurance you’re doing OK.
Always concentrate on your audience and WHAT you’re saying. NOT on yourself. Too many people focus on how nervous they are, and that just increases their nervousness. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that can utterly destroy your presentation.
Often the more nervous we get, the faster we talk. Then we end up getting tongue tied. Our brain and our mouth work at different speeds. Slow down and get them in sync.
Pauses are important, as long as they are not filled with those distracting disfluencies, those uhms, and ahs. Pauses give your audience a chance to process your ideas – important for remembering key points of your presentation. Pauses also give you a chance to think of what’s next. And they give you a chance to BREATHE – very important in a presentation. Good breath support.
So engage your audience – one person at a time. Make eye contact, smile and slow down. Focus on what you’re saying not how you’re saying it, and what your message means to your audience. The WIITY – Why It’s Important To You!
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