I’m no different, but after many years and presentations I’m a little more relaxed about it. The most nervous I ever got was giving a best man speech at my best friend’s wedding (even more than my groom speech), but after the first minute and laugh from the audience I was on a roll.
I actually think that speaking in public is easy, the hard thing is preparing – that’s what will make or break your ‘performance’.
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”, so said Benjamin Franklin. And nothing could be more appropriate when talking about presenting or speaking in public.
Here’s a synopsis of how I prepare:
- Set the logic train – Define your start point and your end point and the bits and everything in between. Check with others to ensure this journey makes sense.
- Write your presentation – keep point short and sweet. Use images where possible. Use your audience’s language on slides in case they need to present it internally.
- Write your script – although I tend not to use scripts I find that having the salient points at hand helps. Use a language that is comfortable to you (never use someone else’s script). Find the words in the deck that can provide you with hooks for your points.
- Prepare your presentation – Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse (the more you know your presentation and about your subject the more confident you will be). Time yourself and find out where you need to inject pace to add emphasis or slow down to allow a point to sink in. Keep doing this to a point that it becomes ingrained in your mind.
- Present – Take a step forward as you start to speak, it immediately puts you in a positive and assertive frame of mind. Don’t be afraid to ad-lib as you get interrupted – keep coming back to the points you make in response to show you are paying attention to your audience not merely reeling off a script. Be natural in your movements rather than over-energetic or too rigid. Don’t be afraid to go off script, but make your point quickly and bring it back. In Q&A, if you don’t know the answer, admit it.
None of this really feels like rocket science, it is all about the process. I would say that once you’d done the first 3 headings then that is 80% of the real work done.
Remember, no one really wants you to fall flat on your face, so go out and enjoy yourself.