5 Ways to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking and Deliver a Killer Presentation
Does the thought of public speaking or presenting in front of people feel like a complete nightmare? A while back I was asked to do a presentation at a conference at The Nobel Peace Center amongst a lot of experienced speakers within my field. I was terrified to say the least, but I said yes. Many of us feel this way, but we can’t allow fear to get in the way of amazing opportunities. We desperately need more female speakers to obtain real diversity among opinion leaders across industries, and it’s our responsibility to contribute to change by exiting our comfort zones. Here are my best 5 tips on how to deliver a killer presentation – with a minimal amount of anxiety.
Make It Yours
Guidance and learnings from people with experience is super valuable, but one of the best advice I got was to make the presentation “my own”. This means, don’t worry to much about what other people think, or how they deliver their presentations. Be confident in the angle and the points you really believe in, and follow a structure that feels natural for you. If you feel uncomfortable with something, it’s ok to skip it, but remember to challenge yourself!
Capture Your Audience Through A Compelling Story
Capturing and keeping the interest of your audience throughout a presentation can be challenging. Getting your ideas across by telling a story is a great way to keep people curious and entertained. Structure the story by presenting an issue, opposite viewpoints, and include a climax and a solution – all connecting back to your main point. People appreciate structured information because it makes it easier to follow along. Present the agenda with key points to the audience at the beginning to prepare them and manage their expectations. The agenda should be used as a guide, but not a script. Be sure to know your audience, and use examples and language that empowers them to understand more, rather than feeling like they have no idea what you are talking about.
Lead With Visuals
Support your story with compelling imagery that triggers your listeners imagination and get them into the right headspace. Video content is also a great element to break up the sections of your presentation, and add some entertainment (which also conveniently gives you a break from speaking).
Only use text to present important data, key points or headings that strengthen the structure of your story, and avoid information overload. If you need support notes, use presenter cards to keep you feeling safe and in control.
Put In The Time
This point might seem obvious, but preparation really is the key to great performance, as well it helps get rid of (most of) the anxiety. The first point is putting in the time to research and craft your actual story. The more you know about a subject, the better you will be at conveying the story and connecting with your audience.
Practice with others, both colleagues that can input on the content, as well as friends that don’t know anything about the subject to make sure the points are really clear. Record yourself and work on timing and speed, as well as breathing and breaks. I prefer writing a script and using this for practice, but you should be confident enough to throw it away before the presentation.
A great way to worry less about practicing enough is to set aside a specific amount of time you are going to focus on the talk each day, and then stick with the plan. If you do this, you can be happy with yourself no matter what.
Surround yourself with cheerleaders and find a mentor for professional support. Don´t be afraid to ask for help and feedback, and share content and ideas before you are finished. Someone might have an interesting input to move you in a new direction. Spend time with people who want to see you succeed and who will be happy to help and support you! These people are magical.
Do you have any good tips or experiences to share? We’d love for you to share them in the comment section below.
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