Effective presentation or public speaking skills is one of the necessary tools that can drive your career upwards, irrespective of your career path. So, public speaking is not exclusive to politicians, religious leaders or OAPs. To all the workplace skills you have, add effective presentation skill. It is like an icing on the cake. It helps prepare you for leadership and executive roles.
At one point or another, you will have to make presentations in your career; my desire is for you to grab the opportunity with both hands and maximise it. Below are a few tips that will definitely help you conquer your fears and deliver winning presentations.
Stage Fright Is Universal
Before we get to the nitty-gritty effective presentation, it is important that we begin by dealing with the very thing that is keeping us from trying to speak in public: FEAR.
Some people have a phobia for a microphone. Some can’t even stand the sight of a podium or a lectern. When it is a funeral, some persons will rather be the man in the coffin, than deliver the eulogy. That is what the fear of public speaking can do. In case you are reading this and you hate pubic speaking because you have a fear for it, I have good news for you. The fear of public speaking or what we call stage fright is a universal feeling.
It is not peculiar to you. Everybody experiences stage fright. Think of any great speaker you know. He or she experiences stage fright. Show me that speaker who does not experience stage fright and I will show you a speaker who has been speaking to a particular group of people over a long period of time.
What do I mean by this? Stage fright is something we all experience that moment we are about to be called upon to speak. The best that can happen to regular speakers like politicians and religious leaders is subduing their stage fright as a result of speaking to the same familiar audience over time. However, the moment they are invited to speak on a different and an unfamiliar platform, they experience an initial stage fright.
The difference between you and your favorite speakers is that they know how to deal with their own stage fright. You too can deal with stage fright like we all are doing. I used ‘doing’ because it is a continuous process. You don’t kill stage fright. You manage it any time it shows up and it will continue to show up. But the good news is that you have what it takes, to keep dealing with it that people won’t even notice you are battling with it. It will interest you to know that I, too, experience stage fright…but I make a living speaking in public.
One of the greatest tonic stage fright feeds on is lack of preparation. When there is no adequate preparation, it leads to lack of self-confidence. Lack of self-confidence leads to low self-esteem. Stage fright thrives on low self-esteem. The man that fails to prepare is already preparing to fail.
Please whenever you are assigned to make any presentation at work or somewhere else behalf of your team or organization, endeavor to prepare adequately. In adequate preparation, we mean you should first try to understand the topic you are given. Don’t assume you know what you should be talking about. Ensure you understand the scope of the presentation before any other form of preparation is made. Do enough research. Generate relevant information. Articulate your thoughts properly and finally rehearse your presentation. You have 90% chances of overcoming your stage fright when you know you are adequately prepared for the presentation. Prepare for the presentation. Don’t try to memorize it. Just prepare. It raises your confidence level. Finally, adequate preparation also entails dressing properly for the presentation and arriving early for the presentation.
Engage Your Audience
One of the ways you can manage your stage fright during a presentation is by engaging your audience. Before or in the middle of your presentation, try and get people to stand up and speak. You can either ask them individually to stand up and share their opinion or ask a question. That way, you will realise that behind all those sophisticated looks and outfits are people also battling with stage fright.
I apply this strategy always and it works for me. I go for trainings in some organizations and my audience are looking at me like “who are you?” “Who you help?” You know those kind of look that does not help when you are still trying to deal with the stage fright that followed you from home. What I simply do is to engage them immediately. Ask them to stand up one after the other and introduce themselves or say a few things and you will realize that most of them can’t even look you in the face again when they are standing up. That way you also see that they are all humans after all and it helps you relax. It also helps them come out of their shells and become receptive.
Whenever you are making a presentation, have that consciousness that you are in charge at that moment. Even if your audience are people you presume are superior to you. Shun it. As long as that presentation lasts, you are in charge and I want you to feel and act that way. Be it sales presentation, proposal or project defense, advertising pitch or a debate, you must understand that you are adding value and so you should be proud of yourself and confident. If you work in this consciousness, it helps keep stage fright at a distance. But when you think that people are doing you a favor by listening to you, then you are setting yourself up for a poor presentation.
Master the art of breathing properly. It helps you to feel calmer. You can take it a step further by doing stretches and exercising to relax your whole body. Some experts suggest that a yoga session can be a great way to get rid of the extra bit of nervousness, and it leaves your body amazingly refreshed afterwards.
Doing yoga or meditating, the night before your presentation, or even the day of it, if time allows, could really help you get ready to go without the extra jitters clouding your feelings.
Finally, the best way to develop the art of dealing with stage frights and perfecting your presentation skills is by seeking for any opportunity to speak in pubic. You can prepare a presentation and deliver before your family and friends or volunteer to speak on behalf of your team at work meetings. Just grab any opportunity to speak in public, even if it means taking the prayer before a meeting commences. That is the only way that success is guaranteed in public speaking.
Next week, we will be looking at what a good presentation skill is.
Have a great day.
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