Now if you are anything like one of clients, making a presentation to a fairly small group – known or unknown can be a terrifying experience.
I’ve been through this myself when I first started training and facilitating nearly 10 years ago. I remember the first time I stood in front of a group of people all looking at me to lead and guide them. I was terrified, so uptight at times that I couldn’t think clearly.
How do you truly connect with people and take them on a journey that will end up with them being engaged with you and your topic?
I’ve been to a few presentations this week that were great, informative and clear – however the presenters didn’t always connect with their audience. They didn’t check-in with them to see how they are doing or notice people yawning, shifting in their seats.
Questions during the presentation were sometimes met with dismissal – it seemed as if the presenter was more focused on ‘getting through’ the slides and finishing on time than engaging with their audience.
Well for some of my clients, even those who have jumped in through sheer determination, the experience of presenting is not always an enjoyable one.
Some of the most common fearful scenarios I have come across are:
- Presenting to a potential client (particularly if unsure of the client or content
- Presenting a topic that is not your area of knowledge or expertise
- Presenting a session about something outside of work (i.e. sharing about yourself)
- Presenting to staff (particularly to motivate, engage or share information), peers or indeed others in your profession
And some of the common concerns are…
- I have to know my topic inside out
- I have to know what to say and when, be prepared
- I have to get through all the content on time
- I’ll make a mistake, miss something, forget something
- I’ll look silly, unprofessional, incompetent, stupid
- I’ll be ask questions I can’t or don’t want to answer
Result = stress, tension, disconnection, panic, insomnia, time consuming checking/research to prepare
Here’s my 4 top tips for you:
- BREATHE – take 3 conscious breaths and remember you will, most likely, do your best and that’ll be enough
- Check-In with yourself – with those expectations you have in yourself…often we make judgements or assumptions about what’s expected of us or others. Is it true, generally speaking, that you are unprofessional or incompetent?
- Check-in with your audience – are they yawning, shifting in their seats, distracted? Check-in with them, ask them how you are doing. Ask if they have ideas or examples to discuss – this is essential to bring the topic to life and make it real. They are there for a purpose right? Because they want to get something from your presentation – so check in with them to make sure this is happening
- Learn to love the Don’t Know – you can say ‘I don’t know’ when asked a question. It is allowed! You don’t know what you don’t know and that’s ok. Nobody knows everything. The important thing here, as a leader and presenter, is to respond – acknowledge the question and offer a solution or follow up
And…One More Thing…
Be yourself! Speak from the heart…show your passion…enthusiasm…