Do you ever get nervous in front of crowd? I certainly do when I have to stand and speak to audience of my peers or even more so my superiors. So what are some easy ways to calm your nerves before a big presentation? And how can you seem prepared even when you are not? Here are our quick tips to be polished and poised at your next work presentation.
1) Preparation - There is nothing as important as solid preparation. If you cram the night before it will usually show So know your material. Practice the presentation a lot in front of my mirror or even better in front of people you trust who can give you pointers. Anticipate questions and have answers prepared, even for things you may not know. If you don't have the answer right away you know where to go to find it and can confidently tell someone you will follow up for them. This kind of preparation will show in your poise and subject matter command. I also always have some short version of my presentation prepared for reference - not the same things as on your power point slides our high level outline but the details you need to make sure you highlight.
2) Dress the Part - Dress in something that makes you feel strong and confident It should not be too tight or need fidgeting or tugging. Those kinds of things make you seem nervous. It should fit impeccably and give you room to move. I like an open front jacket because it moves with me when I walk or raise my arms to gesture. These pics show my go to presentation look.
3) Breathe - I firmly believe in taking 3-5 slow, deep breaths before going "on," It calms my mood and helps slow my nerves before I step under the lights of a presentation. Oxygen helps your recollection too so fill your body with good, deep breaths.
4) When You Did Not Plan The Way You Wanted - So we all know the reality is sometimes you don't get to do all the preparation you like or you are put on the spot to have a presentation ready in an hour. So how do you come off professional and polished under these circumstances? Nervous people tend to talk too long and usually do not make sense. Audiences only retain so much so rambling has a negative effect. Plan the pithy parts that you need and keep it under your allotted time so you can allow time for questions. If you are unsure you can fill your time, your audience can be your friend. Stop every once in awhile to see if anyone has questions or comments on what you have said. I always ask if people in the crowd have had similar experience or different experience and usually people will pipe up because they like to hear themselves talk.
5) When All Else Fails - The most important thing is to convey comfort not fear - smile, laugh (even at yourself) - you will own the room.
Would love to hear your presentation tips in the comments!
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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