Presentations are one of the most dreaded practices for individuals. Public speaking is actually most people’s number one fear. Their second fear is death. It may seem dramatic, but you don’t have to prefer death over public speaking! Follow along for some helpful tips to gain the confidence you need to successfully give a presentation.
Practice Your Presentation
Practice makes perfect. Practicing your presentation gives you an opportunity to go over your numbers one more time to make sure they are accurate. Practice gives you an opportunity to try different presentation techniques to find what best fits your style and the information you want to give. Practice lets you catch mistakes and put your best foot forward under the spotlight. Practicing in front of a mirror lets you observe your mannerisms and figure out how you can better communicate with your audience. Practice isn’t just about knowing the information; practice lets you become confident in what you have to say and how you are going to say it.
Be Conscious of Body Language
Part of the wisdom behind practicing in front of a mirror or recording your presentation beforehand is so you can analyze your body language. There are certain poses that communicate different messages to people. For example, crossing your arms in front of yourself is a sign of being closed off. This can come from feelings of discomfort or disengagement. Either way, your audience will pick up on the cues you are sending them. Opening your arms and leaving them by your side except to do intended gestures with a stable stance will communicate confidence and expertise in your presentation.
Know Your Audience
Most of your presentation style should focus on who your audience is. What kind of information do they want to hear? What delivery will work the best for them? With a young audience you need a lot of different elements to keep them entertained throughout. With an older audience you don’t need the same tactics, but you do need to find a way to make yourself unique and stand out from all the other presentations going on. Knowing your audience lets you determine their motivating factors and use it to your advantage to generate a powerful response.
Dress For Success
Perhaps one of the most common ideas when it comes to presentation is that when you look good, you feel good. Dressing for success puts you in a frame of mind to succeed while presenting. Typically, you want to dress slightly better than what the situation calls for. For example, a meeting with executives should include your best business outfit. You also want to make sure that your outfit lets you move and demonstrate everything appropriately. A modest skirt is great for any occasion and can give you the confidence in yourself you need. Choose what will make you feel confident to transfer that same energy into your presentation.
Listen to Your Favorite Music
Do you have an album that really gets you excited and ready to face the world? Think of this as your pre-game pump up music. Music has a strong correlation with the way our brain and nervous systems are feeling. For some, they need an upbeat loud song to get them excited. Others need calm instrumental to calm their nerves. Choose what works best for you. Ultimately, a song that empowers and lifts your spirits will play a huge role in transferring energy into your presentation.
Just as music has a big impact on the way we feel, our body positions have a similar impact. Before presenting, it is a good idea to go to a quiet place (perhaps the bathroom) and strike some power poses. Opening your body opens your heart and your brain to increased blood flow. This will help you think faster and respond more easily to questions. Good posture conveys confidence and credibility to your audience while also letting you project your voice better. While you are at it with the power poses, don’t forget to give yourself some affirmation statements as well.
Get There Early
Getting a feel for the environment you will be presenting in can make a huge difference in how comfortable you feel. When presenting, it shows a great level of professionalism and enthusiasm when you show up 15-20 minutes early to your venue. This will also give you an opportunity to run through technical aspects and make sure everything is working properly. Seeing the space you will be presenting in can help you visualize your audience and how you want the demonstration to go. Running a play by play will leave you relaxed and confident when game time comes.
Reframe Nervousness as Excitement
Perhaps the biggest thing you can do for yourself is to admit that you are nervous. Pretending not to be nervous can actually make things worse because the nervous energy inside of you has no way to exit. Once you accept the nervous energy you feel, you can take control of the situation and get your heartbeat to slow down. Reframing your nervousness as excitement is a very powerful tool in generating confidence and high performance. Nervousness and excitement generate the same physical responses (butterflies in the stomach, a fast pulse, sweaty palms, etc.). Both emotions are natural high states of arousal. Telling yourself that you are excited instead of nervous turns your thinking from a negative outlook into something positive. Rise to the occasion with excitement for the opportunity you have rather than dreading it.
Presentations have in a variety of formats. It can be difficult to be excited when you feel like you lack the confidence you need to do a good job. Doing a good job does not mean convincing your audience to go with your plan. A good job is making yourself personable and persuading your audience that there is another way. Preparation is key to giving a confident presentation. Remember, you are the expert, that’s why you’re the one presenting.
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