Pain-free presentations: How to overcome the anxieties of public speaking
Whether you're a business leader, sales manager or other management professional, an occasion will inevitably arise when you are called upon to stand before a group of people to speak to them or make a presentation. Good public speaking and presentation skills are an asset for any manager or leader, but for many people the prospect of standing before an audience and talking or presenting is a prospect that fills them with dread.
Formal and effective training in the arts of public speaking and delivering presentations, such as the 'High Impact presentation skills' course provided by Maguire Training, offers the greatest benefit to managers and leaders who possess minimal public speaking experience.
However, for those who are required to speak publicly at short notice before they have had a chance to be expertly coached in effective presentation, here are a few ideas that will help to reduce the fear and anxiety that many associate with facing an audience.
- Emulate your hero
Is there a public figure you particularly admire who regularly speaks in public? It could be a politician, an actor, a newsreader or another well-known business leader. Ask yourself how they would prepare for, and deliver, the talk or presentation that you are tasked with. If possible research talks they have given, watch video footage or listen to recordings. Take note of their techniques and use them to your own advantage when speaking publicly.
- Rehearse, rehearse, and rehearse.
There really is no substitute for knowing your lines or presentation inside out when it comes to building confidence. If you know every single word and can repeat it verbatim without the need for cues or memory aides then 90% of the battle is won and you will be able to cope with whatever circumstances arise on the day.
- Stay within your 'delivery comfort zone'
Tailor your presentation or speech to suit both you and the audience; if humour is not your style or is inappropriate to the situation, leave it out. If delivering complex statistics or heavily-detailed information is required try to find a way of simplifying it without losing its meaning. Keep sentences short and understandable and avoid the use of technical terms or jargon if these are likely to cause you or your audience difficulties. When creating your speech or presentation, imagine that you are a member of the audience; if you don't find the subject matter and delivery straightforward and easy to understand, neither will your audience.
- Present as though you are talking to a single person
Facing a crowd is the greatest fear of many novice public speakers but a helpful strategy is to keep moving your gaze around the audience and to imagine that the face you are currently looking at belongs to the only other person in the room with you. Whilst this may sound easier said than done, never forget that 99% of the people in your audience will share exactly the same fears and anxieties of public presentation and will admire you for your efforts.
- Talk yourself up
The world's greatest actors suffer from stage fright; you are not alone in your worry. However, take every opportunity to remind yourself how good you are, that it's only a presentations, that you know it off by heart and that no-one could deliver it as well as you're going to. Repeatedly reminding yourself of your strengths and abilities and your determination not to be beaten by something as trivial as a presentation or speech builds self-belief; remember you CAN do this and it WILL be fine.
- Accept that mistakes happen to everyone
If you make a mistake or fluff your lines, smile, apologise and move on. So what? The mistake is already history the moment it has happened. Keep calm and carry on, act like it never happened and everyone will be on your side.
Giving a successful business presentation or speech that is well-received and appreciated by your audience can be an exhilarating and fulfilling experience, and when it's over you'll wonder why you made such a big deal of it beforehand. In addition to their classroom-based courses, Maguire Training offers several invaluable E-learning courses that can help managers and leaders develop their public speaking and presentation skills. Helping with aspects such as Presentation Structure and Preparation and Developing Confidence and Energy in Presentations, these outstanding E-learning modules enable candidates to study in their own time and at their preferred pace of learning.