Fear of delivering presentations and public speaking is the number one fear in business throughout the world. Being frightened to stand up and deliver a presentation is what stops many people progressing to where they aspire to get to in their career.
Over the years I have started to notice an increase in the number of clients investing in coaching specifically to help them deliver powerful presentations, because they understand that this a valuable skill.
In this article I would like to share with you some of the ways that you can help yourself and others present well.
One of the first questions I ask my Executive Coaching clients is “When you think about presenting, who are you focused on?” Nine times out of ten the answer I get is “I am focusing on how well I will be able to deliver my presentation”
Well guess what they are focusing in the wrong place. The art of delivering engaging presentations is focusing on the message and the audience, rather than yourself. A presenter is only the catalyst that connects an audience with a specific message.
It is the way that this is done that creates the magic people notice. In the words of Maya Angelou “At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”
I also ask my clients “Have you ever considered that every member of your audience will experience the presentation you deliver in their own specific way?”
Most people never give this a thought because they are too busy focusing on themselves!
How we imagine something has a direct impact on how we do something. What you think, has a direct impact on how you feel.
For example, if you say to yourself “I am rubbish at presenting” (even if you have never presented before) you have to imagine what it is like to deliver a rubbish presentation.
You will probably start by running a movie in your head where you see yourself making a fool of yourself in front of others. People are laughing at you, your voice is trembling, in fact you may even start to notice your palms sweating and you may even feel shaky as you get that horrible feeling in your stomach. The thought of getting up in front of others just fills you with dread and no way are you going to offer to do a presentation.
Now compare that to imagining yourself delivering a really engaging presentation. Thinking to yourself “I deliver great presentations ” what type of movies are you imagining now?
I guess you are seeing yourself standing confidently in front of your audience and being engaging, interactive and enjoying being there. People are interested in what you are talking about and you are feeling good.
Now of course you just can’t expect to give a great presentation just because you imagine you can!!
You have to know your subject, create visually appealing slides, transition smoothly between slides, have good eye contact with your audience, use your voice powerfully and have the energy to keep people engaged.
Many people attend presentation courses and still can’t present well, because no matter how many external skills you learn, it is what is going inside your head that determines the results.
Olympic Gold Medal winners know this, as well as doing the physical practice they add ‘mental rehearsal’ where they see, feel and hear what it is like to win that gold.
So whether you are doing this for yourself, or coaching people in presentation skills, the trick is as well as preparing physically for a presentation, add ‘mental rehearsal’ by imagining the following:
- Seeing yourself speaking confidently
- Imagining the audience interacting with you
- Finishing the presentation and hearing the applause
- Being passionate and enthusiastic about your subject
- Enjoying yourself
It is estimated that every minute of a presentation requires one hour of physical preparation. By adding ‘mental rehearsal’ not just once, but as many times as you need to really create the feeling that this is something you enjoy doing you will start to present engaging and powerful presentations.