Reader Question: What should I do to control my nervousness when I make presentations at work?
ANSWER:I have a few tips for you but first….
Why are you nervous?
Oftentimes being nervous in front of an audience is a learned response based on an erroneous perception that the audience will hate you. False! It is not true that audiences will hate you and blast what you have to say with heckles and laughter.
Audiences love speakers – at least those who speak up and say what they have to say. There is little tolerance for an unprepared speaker and there really should not be. Being prepared means that you have researched and rehearsed your material in advance and is ready to present a well-thought message.
Presentations at work or for work should follow the same format. You are the speaker who has an obligation to share information in a way that the audience will understand you and get learning-points that make their attention worthwhile.
Period. That is your mission – to research, rehearse (not memorize), and present a worthwhile message.
Toastmasters International teaches speaking tips which members practice in Club meetings before an audience of their peers. Joining Toastmasters is one way to work on a newly created project and test its cogency and receive usable feedback. Let the Club members be your test audience as you practice your speech.
Other speaking tips are:
Have a topic – think of clever ways to engage your audience interest right from the start with a “hook” topic. Be creative-open up your mind and you will surely capture your audience. For example: Making Money is too broad and bland. BUT Millions At the Bottom of a Fishpond will surely make my ears perk up.
Write for the Audience – never write just for yourself. Instead, write complete sentences and concepts that build upon a message for your audience. Take the title, Millions at the Bottom of a Fishpond as a creative suggested from above, you can break that title down into speaking points such as money, millions, a story about fishing and finding a treasure, bottoming out and coming back up…let the ideas flow.
Be symmetrical. Make what you write make sense. Build your opening, speech information, and conclusion around your central topic that relates to your title. Let each sentence guide your audience to a “dramatic” conclusion.
Add on – regardless of your title or topic, add on humor, quotes, and stories. Embellish what you want to say with personal tales, advice, a challenge, humor, quotes or other material that punctuate your speaking points.
Be natural – just be yourself. They invited you to speak and not some artificial, unfamiliar clone of you. Speak in your natural voice, have a friendly, confident tone, and use voice inflections and simple natural gestures to underscore a point.
Sit down – say it, say it well and then sit down. Audiences love brevity. The world is moving so fast and information is delivered with such speed that competent brevity is prized. Don’t linger trying to fill up time unless you plan to add a question and answer session after you have concluded your presentation.
Say it well and sit down. Absorb the applause. Bask in the emotion of a job well done.
Count it off…three, two, one. My job is done.
Speak up and make what you say count.