A question to start:
Is presenting to a group of people the number 1 fear in America?
Well I am not sure but I do know that a number of years ago it was definitely written about in numerous articles and if my memory serves me right I believe it stated in excess of 40% of people said presenting to a group of people was their greatest fear.
What amazed me about the statistic is although over 40% said presenting was their greatest fear only 19% of people said they feared death. This really means more people fear standing up in front of a group of people and presenting mire than dying, it seems a strange statistic to me.
Whether or not it is correct there are definitely dos and don’ts in carrying out presentations and it is important anyone who has to carry out any form of presentation is aware of some of these.
Having not only been a circuit speaker but also carried out presentation skills training courses for budding presenters, the good news is that effective presentation skills training can definitely help to overcome these fears.
As another presentation skills trainer once said to me on a training course, ‘the important thing is to remember we all get butterflies but good presenters teach their butterflies to fly in the same direction and in formation’
All good presentation training courses will have some time spent on managing anxiety and nerves, but it really takes more than that because confidence is also a vital element. One of the most important attributes a presenter will need is confidence. But where do we get confidence? It is definitely true to say that knowledge builds confidence and also a belief in what you are saying and what you are doing are important.
I remember on a presentation skills training course a number of years ago I was reminded of the great Mohamed Ali who stated ‘It is not in the ring I win or lose my fights it is in the Gym’ what Mohamed Ali was saying is taught up and down the country on presentation skills training courses and that is Preparation and practice is the golden key to presenting.
All presenters need to practice, practice and practice as the old saying goes ‘practice makes perfect’ I also like the saying practice till you can’t get it wrong. There is no substitute for practice and I am always reminded of the famous golfer (I believe it was Gary Player) who had just chipped in the ball from the edge of the green.
In an interview after the game the commentator made a comment about him getting lucky with the shot he chipped in from the edge of the green and rumour has it that his reply was ‘the more I practice that shot the luckier I get’
So the first thing you must do to become a good presenter is to plan your presentation prepare your presentation and practice. I know someone referred to it this on a presentation skills course as the 3 Ps
The second thing you must do on a presentation is ensure it has a clear structure; it really needs to have a beginning middle and an end. A fail proof way to do this is to set out an agenda page such as ‘This is what I am going to be talking about today’ from this then ensure they are the areas you cover and don’t go off on tangents.
Finally, the slide that said this is what I am going to cover can also be copy pasted and used at the end for ‘this is what I covered’. On presentation skills training courses this is sometimes referred to as the news style presentation because it works on the principle of:
- Tell them what you are going to tell them
- Tell them
- Tell them what you told them
Presentation skills training will often include video feedback, in this type of training you are asked to present in front of a camera and then you are recorded for feedback purposes. One of the most common faults this shows up for many people is where they don’t look at the audience but instead look at the screen. This is particularly prevalent on Powerpoint training presentation or presentation training which includes powerpoint presentation training.
For some reason presenters try and use the screen and visual aid as a crutch but on every presentation skills training course good trainers will say ‘you are the main visual aid’ this means that the screen and powerpoint slides are really only there to reinforce a message but your eye contact, vocal control and engagement with the audience is the most important aspect of any presentation.
There are so many things people need to remember when presenting and all good presentation training courses will point the majority of these out. I do believe there is nothing better than standing up and presenting while being recorded and then getting professional feedback on all the areas you are doing well and the areas you need to work on.
It is often only in presentation training or presentation skills training courses you get the opportunity to actually see yourself and get professional feedback and it is probably one of the best forms of presentation training available.