Whenever polls are taken of people’s worst fears in life, there is one that generally always ranks number one…and it isn’t what you think it is! What most people dread beyond anything else in the world is (drum roll please) public speaking. For whatever reason, getting up in front of a room full of people and expressing an opinion just absolutely scares the tar out of people. The idea of giving a speech to a room full of people is so terrifying to some that they clam up, sweat profusely, hyperventilate, and sometimes go into full-on panic mode.
However, other people thrive in front of the crowd and crave nothing more but the opportunity to step in front of a room full of their peers and lay it all down. But it isn’t magic that allows some people to speak in front of thousands while others cower at the idea of speaking in front of their 10th-grade history class. The only thing those confident speakers possess that anyone else doesn’t is a strategy. They keep calm, devise a plan, stick to it — and get the job done.
Work the room you’re in
The most important aspect of putting on an engaging presentation is knowing your audience. You can have a five-star Powerpoint, killer anecdotes, and facts that knock people’s socks off; but if your presentation is geared toward the wrong crowd, you’re still going to flop. Putting some thought and research into who you are going to be presenting to, is paramount to making sure your presentation goes well. Making sure you are presenting to the right audience and working the room you are in, as opposed to trying to win them over, will do wonders for your presentation.
Embrace your message
Don’t go into it with too wide of birth, do your best to pick a key message and stick to it. Make sure to blend your key phrases and messaging down into a relatable narrative that your audience will take with them. Try and break your entire presentation down into a phrase or sentence, then work that message into all of the phases of your project. Making sure to reiterate your core message will make it so that your audience leaves with a new perspective instead of a bored and bewildered look on their face.
Do don’t say
Instead of standing in front of your audience and just talking at them, get them engaged with the content. Have them interact with one another and get them involved with the presentation. If it has to be a Powerpoint presentation, use an abundance of multimedia slides (instead of just graphs and words) to keep people engaged. Even something as simple as including a movie at the beginning of the presentation can get your crowd more invested in what you have to say. Another useful tool for keeping your audience engaged is passing around a worksheet that highlights your key motivations. No matter what your presentation is on, making your audience feel like it should matter to them is a key aspect.
Weave a narrative
Sure, you are just giving a presentation, but this is more than just telling people a few key facts. This is show biz, baby! You have to give the participants a beginning, middle, and end, something they can really sink their teeth into. When a great speaker is able to captivate an audience they do it with a little charisma, but more importantly, they do it with a story. People are able to easily follow a relatable narrative, even on a topic they aren’t so interested in. So, thinking of your presentation as if you are telling a story can really make the information you are presenting, stick.
Equally as important as working the right room, is proper preparation. No matter how well versed you may be on the topic nothing can take the place of a little good, old fashioned practice. You have to run through your speech until you know it by heart, you need to make sure all of your visual aspects are on point and appropriate, and you have to work out those pre-show jitters. Taking the time to rehearse before a presentation can be the difference between a resounding victory and a horrible defeat. Spending a few extra minutes preparing before a big presentation can be what makes all the little difference in your showing.