If you get the jitters when you stand up in front of an expectant audience to deliver a presentation, you’re not alone. Most people feel at least some anxiety when they speak in public and some are almost paralysed with fear. The good news is, there are ways to tame your nerves and to help ensure that your presentations stand out for all the right reasons. Here are some top tips to help you give a great talk.
Make sure you’re familiar with your props
One piece of advice is to get familiar with your props. Not knowing how to control your presentation equipment can really throw you when you’re in the spotlight. This means it’s a good idea to take some time getting grips with any devices and other items you’ll be using during your talk. For example, make sure you’re comfortable with the relevant computer or laptop. It’s also helpful to know which items of furniture you’ll be provided with. This might seem like a small point, but it can help to make the difference between success and failure. For example, furniture specialists like Calibre offer a host of stylish lecterns, which are great for projecting an authoritative image.
By ensuring that you know exactly what to expect set-up wise when you stand up to give your presentation, you can avoid a whole lot of stress. For example, you won’t end up flapping around trying to find somewhere to stash your notes and you’re less likely to experience any technical hiccups.
Do plenty of prep
If you’re in denial about the prospect of giving a talk to your lecture or seminar group, it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand. However, plenty of preparation is a must if you want your presentation to be a success. Try to write the content well in advance so you have lots of time to go over it and to make sure you’re familiar with all the facts.
It’s also a good idea to rope friends or family into listening to practice runs. Getting used to saying your ideas out loud will give you more confidence. You can also ask for feedback about the content of your talk. If you discover that some of your material is confusing or boring, it’s worth re-writing it.
Dress to impress and try to look confident
When the day of your talk arrives, it’s important that you dress to impress. This doesn’t mean you have to wear a swanky suit. After all, it’s not like you’re auditioning to be on The Apprentice or interviewing for a high-flying corporate job. The style of clothes you normally wear to uni should suffice, but it’s a good idea to choose an outfit that you feel comfortable and confident in. Throwing on a pair of crumpled jeans and yesterday’s top isn’t likely to put you in the go-getter frame of mind you need.
When the moment comes for you to actually stand up and deliver your material, remember to smile. Looking like a startled rabbit in the headlights isn’t likely to impress your audience. Try to keep an upright posture too, and don’t be tempted to shuffle around or fidget while you’re talking.
If possible, speak clearly and confidently and keep making eye contact with your audience. Meanwhile, don’t be tempted to rush through your talk. The best presentations are steady and controlled. Use silences to emphasise important points too. This will help you to look like a pro.
So that you can time your talk properly, take along a watch and place this discretely on the desk or lectern in front of you. If you have the opportunity at the end of your talk, invite questions from the audience as well. This will help ensure they feel engaged.
Giving a presentation isn’t always easy, but by following these tips you should be able to ensure your next talk is a success.