It’s easy to think the hard part of putting together a presentation is done once you’ve finalized your deck. In fact, now is when the work really begins. You can practice your presentation around the clock, but unless you conquer any underlying fear of public speaking, your audience will have a hard time focusing on your message. Here’s how to instill confidence in your presentation skills, no matter the size of the audience or topic of your slides.
Becoming more comfortable and less fearful in front of an audience starts with a solid outline for your presentation. If you are comfortable with the way you’ve prepared your notes, it will show in how relaxed you are when speaking in front of a crowd. A good rule of thumb: one thought, one slide. Include a visual cue on each slide that doesn’t put the burden on you to remember what you’re going to say next.
Fear most often comes from the pressure of memorizing what you want to say. One line is misspoken, and your whole presentation is thrown off. If your presentation comes off as too polished and rehearsed, you will lose the connection with your audience. To get all your points across, relay the information in biteable chunks. Your audience and stress level will thank you.
Read the room
Above all, focus on your message and the audience when you’re in the moment, not yourself. When practicing, use a voice memo app instead of recording a video so you aren’t lasering in on what you’re wearing and how your hair looks. If you are concerned about your body language, put one in your pocket or on your hip to ground yourself, and your other hand will naturally do the talking. Then, devote the rest of your energy toward reading the audience to know how your message is being received.
What makes you most fearful during a presentation?