If you ever thought that carrying out presentations was daunting, gave you butterflies in the stomach or that you just couldn’t get that response from the crowd – you are not alone. You are like approximately 80% of the working force. An estimated of only 10% truly love it and likewise, an estimated 10% have Glossophobia – or fear of public speaking.
Although the chance that you become a charming and orator like J.F. Kennedy or inspiring one like Churchill are close to nill (not to break illusions here), there techniques to at least counter many typical challenges. A recent training I had the chance of jumping onto,”Presentations Skills” given by John May, structured these techniques nicely into 7 factors for perfecting your presentation skills.
The Message: The first place to start is the message you will deliver itself. Make sure you follow these 5 golden rules for an effective presentation when presenting: Attention 20/20, Interest, Conviction, Desire, and Conclusion
Confidence & Enthusiasm: Confidence exhibits that you know and are comfortable with your subject. People will trust more if you ‘seem’ like you believe in what you say. Notice that seem is a key word – you can have butterflies waiting to pop from your stomach, yet still fake the illusion of confidence. Appearances are important here. Enthusiasm, likewise with believing, being enthusiastic or communicating the emotion will liven up your speech and communicate a positive feeling about what you are talking about.
Voice: People only remember 7% of the message itself but 38% of your tone of voice. The tone of voice and speed at which you speak are important in: Conveying emotion, Highlighting what is important, and allowing people the time listen, process what is said, and let the important elements sink in. Allow for enthusiasm and for pauses between sentences.
Gestures: Crossing your arms, hands in pockets or hands moving every second will be distracting. Envision that you are stable on your feet and hands visible in front of you with palms slightly facing your audience. As with tone of voice, use your hands to express visually the important elements. In this fashion you will combine, message, audio, and visual in expressing the important elements of your message.
Body: Being rigidly stiff or flailing about will both be counter-productive. As tone of voice impact is greater than the message itself, it is estimated that body language accounts for 55% of the importance of your message. Be stable on your feet, seem confident, stand upright (not like a stick though), and move naturally with your message. Also, not to forget facing different parts of the crowd so that they feel included as your audience.
Eye contact: Eye-contact is critical in connecting with you audience and making an effort to try and cover the entire room and not just one area. From research done on the power of eye-contact: The research of Dr. Porges and Dr. Bensing reinforces another major tenet of Speaking Circles practice, which is that extended soft-focused eye contact is one of the quickest and most powerful ways for a speaker to build rapport and trust with an audience. (Source)
If you are in a room, just make sure to swipe left to right and connect with some in a soft-focused eye contact (in contrast to just blatantly staring at them). If in a large audience room, split the audience into 4 regions and sweep your gaze at each quadrant throughout your presentation.
Practice & Practice: This is probably the most important factor to reduce the anxiety. Practice till you know your subject by heart. This will increase your confidence, your appearance as confident, and most importantly if your slides or notes get lost – you wont be standing there speechless and succumb to the worst nightmare everyone always envisions!