Each time I finish a presentation or speaking event, someone will come up and tell me that they have a fear of public speaking and could never speak in front of a crowd. Be it a pep talk to your sales team or a market report to your superiors or just speaking at your local PTO group, for many people, this fear can create a wave of anxiety that hinders them from giving a good presentation.
Here are three reasons I have found that cause this anxiety, which, with a little training and preparation, anyone can overcome.
Does you feel prepared?
Anxiety may creep up when someone feels they are not 100% comfortable with his material. They begin to focus on things like, “What if someone asks me a question and I don’t know the answer?” or, “I hope I don’t sound unprepared.”
Maybe they are presenting a report on the progress of their project or a marketing plan for the upcoming quarter. If they are not 100% sure of what they want to convey to the audience, then it will show in the delivery.
To minimize this, know your material inside and out. Think of any possible question the audience could ask and prepare answers. Understand all the details of the information being presented, but keep the facts of the presentation simple. This will keep you focused on delivering a few key points without overwhelming your audience with too much detail.
How much time have you spent rehearsing the presentation?
Anxiety surely will rise up if someone has not practiced the presentation before show time. Actors do not go onstage to perform without rehearsing every move and speaking the lines over and over until the script has become second nature to them.
Did they speak/record the text of the presentation alone so they could get used to hearing themselves speak? How did they move and what did they do with their hands? Did they practice with the technology they planned to use (for example, a clicker, projector, video, powerpoint et al) to prevent fumbling onstage? Did they make notes on what areas did not “work” and then go back and do it over again until it felt comfortable? Did they practice the presentation with a co-worker to get feedback on how clearly the information was received?
When you have practiced enough times to become 100% comfortable with your presentation, then you will gain the necessary confidence to overcome any situations that arise.
Why are you doing the presentation?
This is the most important reason why anxiety rears its ugly head. Are they giving the presentation to impress the audience or to educate them?
If the goal of the speaker is to impress a boss or certain attendees, they won’t. If they focuses on “I hope they like me!” or “I hope I don’t screw up!” then they will lose focus on what point they are trying to get across.
Once they begins the presentation, their focus must be on educating the audience. They should be saying, “I am here to teach them and help them. It is no longer about me.”
Your focus should be “I am presenting this information so the people in this room can understand and utilize this information to do their jobs more effectively.”
Then, not only will you keep public speaking anxiety at bay, you will end up impressing the audience without focusing on it.
Remember: A great presentation is never about the presenter but always about the audience.
Let me know your thoughts….
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