• Emily

Confidence when presenting

There are two kinds of people in the world – those that like presenting and those that don’t. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t a representation on how effective you are as a presenter. There are many great public speakers that have hated it – Eleanor Roosevelt and Adele to name two.

At many stages in our career we have to present, whether we enjoy doing it or not. Presenting comes in different guises – it could be presenting in an interview, to your small team or to a large audience it could also be presenting on your Instagram stories or youtube! In today’s age we are more likely to be connecting more digitally so presentations may happen more in the virtual setting. I wrote a blog post about connecting in this new virtual world here.

Whilst I don’t believe you can change the type of person you are (I do NOT like presenting!), there are definitely tips and tricks to make it more enjoyable and to ensure your presentation stands out and is remembered.

1) People are more likely to be listening to what you say, then focusing on how you are coming across

We can get caught up in our heads worrying about how hot we are getting and how red our face and neck are turning, however it is likely that people won’t even have been paying attention to that. This can actually help alleviate anxiety you have prior to a presentation. You could even do a little test – organise to present to your team at work and afterwards ask them what they noticed about your appearance or whether you stuttered. Chances are they were too busy listening to what you were saying to even notice!

2) Practise, practise, practise

As they say, practise makes perfect and Emerson famously said “all the great speakers, were bad speakers at first”. Although you don’t want to over-engineer your presentation and seem robotic, practising and really knowing your stuff is important to help you feel confident. Hilary Clinton said “I cannot overstate the importance of practising. Get some close friends and family to help evaluate you, or someone you trust at work”. Presenting to a small group and getting feedback will help to build up your confidence and will also give you points to improve on. Going through a planned presentation with people you trust, will also give you an idea of questions that may be asked at the end and allow you to practise answers to that to. Read here about how to make it a habit.

3) What do you want people to leave the room knowing?

The brain receives more than 2 million pieces of information through our senses every second according to the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Taking in all that information would drive us crazy, so according to memory theorist George Miller we can only consciously process 7 +/- 2 bits of information at a time.

What that means for presenters, is, its key to thoroughly think through the question - if your audience had to leave knowing one thing, what would that be? Focusing on the core message of your presentation will mean your audience are more likely to walk away with that message as you will have made it much more obvious.

4) Know your audience

Knowing your audience is key to a successful presentation. Spending time understanding who they are and what they want to know ensures that what you deliver is understood and appreciated. You could reach out to members of the community you will be presenting to run your ideas and thoughts by them. Tailoring your message to your audience is key – analysts will want to know different things then the CEO.

Whilst what you say in a presentation is important, you should also think about how you want your audience to feel. Maya Angelou once famously said “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”.

5) Showcase your personality

Remaining professional is important but as is sharing your true self; this is a key way to form rapport with your audience. Building rapport with your audience is important as it means they are more likely to be engaged and listening to every word you say. Authenticity when presenting is hugely engaging for your audience, they can smell a fraud a mile away! Key ways to showcase your personality may be in the stories you tell within your presentation, the experiences you talk about and even in the clothes or accessories you wear. A good tip here is to watch some Ted Talks and focus on how the presenters bring their own personalities into their presentations. Your personality forms a big part of your USP (Unique Selling Point) read more about that here.

If presenting is something you are looking to work on or you want to chat more, then please drop me an email

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