Whether we like it or not all of us will have to face presentations in certain point in our lives. It is not only a university’s requirement for some dreaded assignments. Far from it! Every job interview you go through is an actual presentation of yourself as a best candidate for the position. Presentation is all about selling yourself; your knowledge, experience, contacts, personality, and ambitions. If you don’t start communicating these skills in a successful way they might never be discovered, or appreciated. Presentation is also about hiding your weaknesses, one of the biggest being stress, sometimes even panic about the thought of public speaking, especially if you are going to be judged afterwards.
Remember – you have only 7 seconds to make a first impression so make this seven seconds work for you. Be generally open, optimistic and professional. Do not shy away from your audience. 93% of how you are judged is based on your appearance and body language so try your hardest not to look too stressed or overwhelmed.
You might be surprised that some of the “old time classics” to cool your presentation nerves down should be treated as myths. Some of them are:
- Picture your audience naked. It supposed to help you imagine your audience as vulnerable as you. The result is quite opposite – it unnerves you. Good looking people imagined naked make you even more self-conscious. On the other hand – slightly less good looking ones might create a certain discomfort while imagined with no clothes on.
- Start with the joke. Unless you are a fantastic comedian (and even the most acclaimed comedian does not get it right always on the night) you might lend up with the situation when your joke was simply not funny for the audience, sometimes offensive or inappropriate. Hence your self-confidence will be shattered at the beginning of the presentation.
- Tell the audience that you are super nervous, drunk, or have a hang over etc. Instead of forming a bond by trying to be one of them, you will achieve the opposite effect – the audience will know that you are far from being a professional at the top of your game and this creates dissatisfaction from the start.
On the other hand there are some basic “good practice techniques’ you can practise. These include:
- Practise your speech (preferably in front of some voluntary audience or a mirror) at least 2 – 3 times in order to reinforce fluency that will help decrease your stress level
- Stick to your time management. Do not start rehearsing on the night before – instead get a good night of sleep
- Be on time for your scheduled appointment.
To conclude with some humour: “Your presentation should be like a mini skirt: long enough to cover the vital parts and short enough to attract attention”
Good luck with improving your presentation skills!
Lecturer in Management, Department of Strategy and Enterprise