Increasingly in this day and age, the demand for good presenters of ideas has increased tremendously. Far too often, people have found themselves tasked having stand in front of an audience to either share an idea or sell a product. Many are simply not prepared for it. This article shares some simple tips for the preparation of a good presentation.
It has been described as one of the top fears in many people, some even going as far as describing it as a bigger fear than dying. Having grown up trying daily to fit in with their peers, whether it is in a school yard or at work, public speaking simply goes against that natural instinct. After all, public speaking is about standing out, and many people have a natural fight or flight response against that.
The good news is that there are ways to overcome this fear. Here are some ways:
1. Know your audience
Who are you speaking to? That’s the first question any speaker must ask. A presentation for a group of 8 year-olds is very different for one for professors, anybody can tell you that, but many people make the mistake of never equating the “audience factor”. Tweaking your speech for the right audience is helps you get your ideas across much more effectively.
2. Know your content
The days when you can read off a storybook in front of the class and still get a star for effort is over. Good public speakers know their content inside out upside down. They do so by asking the professionals and by doing their own research. No one would buy a car from a salesperson who knows next to nothing about the car he sells, so why would anyone listen to a person who has no idea what he’s talking about. Knowing your content would give you the necessary confidence.
Do you watch “Whose Line is it Anyway” and think improvisation is the way to go? You’re wrong. Even the best improv actors prepare with countless theatre exercises with their cast members so they know each other’s energy well. Prepare you speech over and over, finding new ways to say certain lines. Find phrases that are most natural to your speaking style. Never tell yourself you have your cue cards to save you. Your cue cards are simply there to make sure you do not off track when giving your speech or when interrupted by an audience member.
4. Compile good lines
Any actor can tell you a good entrance makes or breaks a performance. This applies to speeches as well. Keep a notebook of good jokes, stories or lines you could use as an opening to warm up the audience or somewhere in your speech. Think of the notebook as a self storage facility for good lines.
Are you crazy? Relax? How? Well, it’s actually quite simple. If you had done the steps above, you would be quite relaxed. However, it is understandable to feel some sort of jitters. At this point, some well-meaning advice would be to imagine the audience naked or to find something to focus on, like a point at the last row of the audience. That’s too abstract. Instead, just know that a good speech is like talking to a friend over a cup of coffee. Your audience is your friend and they are eager to hear what you have to say.