Is there anything scarier than delivering a presentation? If you have a fear of public speaking, you’re not alone. In fact, public speaking is a very common fear for a large swath of the population. So, you’re certainly not alone if you feel anxious when presenting in front of others. However, you’re in luck. I’m a weirdo who actually enjoys (yes, enjoys) public speaking.
In this blog, I will provide you with helpful tips to make presenting in front of others less dreadful (though I cannot promise you will enjoy delivering presentations). Here are my five tips:
1) Get a good night’s rest: This one is a pretty straightforward one, but it can be a bit hard to sleep before a presentation, no matter how big or small. Despite my high level of comfort with presenting, I ensure I get a good night’s rest the day before. It helps me be more energetic and engaged with the audience, along with feeling calmer throughout my presentation. Considerable research also shows the importance of sleep in helping with memory consolidation, which can be very helpful if you’re trying to memorize parts of your presentation.
2) Practice, practice, practice: Believe it or not, I wasn’t always very comfortable with presenting. It wasn’t until university that I began to enjoy doing presentations. Why the sudden change? Many years of practice. I personally recommend practicing in front of friends or family, because you can gage their level of interest in a presentation and practice making eye contact. If that’s not possible (or too nerve-wracking), consider filming yourself and then playing it back so you can assess areas of improvement. Practicing in front of a mirror can also be helpful.
3) Don’t save your presentation until the night before: This pretty much goes hand in hand with the above suggestions. If you finish your presentation early, you have time to practice more, and you can get a full night of sleep before the presentation. Additionally, I’ve found that by finishing my presentation slides early, I tend to catch more mistakes and make improvements to my slide deck.
4) Time yourself: If a presentation has a strict timeline (say ten minutes, for example), be sure to adhere to the allotted time you have been given. Have you ever been bored to sleep by a presentation that just kept going on and on and on, with no end in sight? Not only will this cost you marks or leave a negative impression, but if there are many other presentations on that day, you are giving your peers less time to present.
5) Volunteer to go first: I always volunteer to go first if there are many sessions in a day. For starters, if you’re being marked or judged on your presentation, people tend to be far more lenient to those who go first. Furthermore, there’s nobody else to compare your presentation to, because you were first! If those reasons aren’t compelling enough for you, then perhaps the next one is: by going early, you can be at ease while your peers will continue to feel some pressure and anxiety until their turn arrives!
Public speaking is so natural to me, that it is now a considerable part of my day-to-day job. If I told my teenage self that his future career would involve constant presentations, he would never have believed me. If it’s possible for me to have made such a drastic change, then you too can learn to love (or, at the very least, feel less anxiety) presenting!
Public speaking is a common fear that many of us have. Learn to overcome that fear, and excel when talking in public with these helpful books.