I wish Google were around over 35 years ago when I really needed it; if you search the question “How to have your first kiss?” on it today you’ll be greeted by over 62M results.
I also wish it was there for me 30 years ago when I was equally dumb and nervous about how to give my first presentation. Incidentally, if you type in “how to give your first presentation” you’ll be met with twice as many articles offering advice.
Over the years I’ve come to realize that presenting really is just like kissing. It just takes a little confidence and practice.
The practice isn’t something I can really help you with, but the following suggestions could go a long way to improving your confidence.
1. Remember, it’s not about you.
Most public speaking anxiety is fuelled by the speaker’s disproportionate focus on themselves. You can take a great deal of pressure off of yourself by dwelling on the reason you are presenting in the first place.
On the assumption that it’s because you have something important to say that will clearly benefit and make a difference to the audience, focus on the message and the impact it will have on your audience, not whether they will like you.
2. Don’t try to be perfect.
No one likes a slick and highly polished presenter who has clearly stood in front of a mirror for days on end repeating verbatim the script she has memorized. They only want two things from you: your message and how it will help them.
In other words, they want to see the real you, not the Hollywood version.
3. Skip the small talk.
That means how pleased you are to be there, how many offices you have, and all of the letters you have after your name. Get to the point and tell them why they are really there and what you have to say that is so important.
4. Wear their shoes.
Look at things from your audience’s perspective and put yourself in their position. What is it that keeps them awake at night, troubles them, or holds them back in some small way?
If you wore their shoes, what would you want from you?
5. Can they see it?
One of the mistakes many presenters make when using PowerPoint and other visual aids is cramming far too much information onto a slide. You know you’ve messed up when you hear yourself saying “You probably won’t be able to read this at the back, so I’ll read it for you.”
Make it big, simple, bold, and very clear.
For part 2 of Presenting Is Like Kissing, click here.
Maurice De Castro is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s best loved brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organisation lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create a business helping leaders to do exactly that. Learn more at www.mindfulpresenter.com
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