Tips and stories to add value to you and your organisation
As the old maxim has it, our brain works perfectly until the moment when we stand up to speak and then switches off just when we most need it!
But there is a solution …we can write down our first sentence so that in the few seconds it takes our brain to reboot all we have to do is read out the words. For example; ‘Good morning and thank you for coming, my name is Richard Maun and I’m going to share some presentation tips with you.’
It works every time and gets us launched without embarrassment.
The other thing with presentations is that half the marks are available before we start. Imagine we might score out of 10 for our work. The opening sentence gets us a point.
So does setting up the laptop properly. If we have it at an angle in front of us then we will tend to turn in towards it and only face a section of the audience. Putting it parallel with the front row means our feet and hips are also parallel to it, which means we won’t be ignoring anyone. Earn another point.
Slides need to be brief, so that we can use them to guide us, rather than reading out each point. The audience can read too and have come to hear us speak, not patronise them. Allow a maximim of 7 bullets per slide with 7 words per bullet. 5 x 5 works even better if you want a bonus point.
Bananas are a great source of slow release energy so eat one before you start. Caffeine tends to dry out our throat so sip water instead. A tip I saw an actress do once before going on TV was to gargle with warm water. I copied her and it worked, so I often do that if I need to warm up.
There are 2 points on offer for the one thing that few people do at all and fewer do well – practice.
The best way to practice is to stand in our kitchen and talk to the chairs, the pot plant and the goldfish. Mumbling our way through our slide pack at our desk is way too passive.
It also helps to practice a few slides at the venue, so we can hear ourself in the room. This tends to build confidence as we bring ourselves into the room at a psychological level.
We haven’t even started for real yet and already we have 4 points in the bag.
For an easy fifth point we can choose to sort out timing issues. Writing timed progress targets onto our hard copy of the slides allows us to keep on track as we go through the piece. Only having start-stop times is not much help. You wouldn’t run a bus service like that, so why run a presentation without the detail?
If the venue lacks a clock then we can put our watch down in front of us, where we can see it. Our wrists are lovely, but no help when we are under a stress load.
Presentations, like successful space flights, are all about the preparation. Doing well can enhance our career and doing badly can put a big dent in it, so we can all be astronauts for the day and do a great job!
Oh and if we feel nervous, then the final tip (and my favourite) is to take three big, slow deep breaths. These will tell our brain to release noradrenlin, which will neutralise most of the adrenaline swilling about inside us.
So, this week have fun scoring points and passing the presentation challenge before you’ve even started. Life is sweeter when you’re ahead of the game and like buses and astronauts we want to arrive safely and on time.
Next week: Checking Reality
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