How to Present without Fear – PRACTICE

Copyright (c) 2008 Drew Stevens PhD

Public speaking is one of the largest fears that people face. Whether a toast at a wedding or as business meeting facilitator- public speaking can be a nuisance. Some balk at embarrassment while others fear hesitating. Even for the most learned or the professional speaker, public speaking is difficult.

Overcoming fear is similar to athletic competition- one must practice before competition. Research with hundreds of clients shows that when individuals practice speaking they become confident and unrestrained. Presentations are not as difficult as they seem; they require structure and framework. Get help with your next presentation with PRACTICE©.

Preparation – No presentation can begin or even end properly without proper preparation. All speakers require a framework that must include 1) your audience analysis, 2) your purpose or motive for the presentation, 3) your 3 or 4 main points 4) any stories or statistics required 5) your call to action. These five components are essential to every presentation. Meetings today are run too haphazardly. Productive meetings must have purpose.

Rapport – Some presentations are succinct and do not enable much time for your to build audience rapport. You can overcome this hurdle with consistent interaction. More importantly, adult participants desire becoming part of the presentation. When possible, stop for questions, engage participants with case studies, exercises, charts, etc. If you relax your audience you too will relax.

Attention – It is important to understand that you will never capture the attention of an entire audience. People filter during presentations are think about a myriad of items other than you. However, to ensure you capture an audience majority it is best to use metaphor, statistics, and even self-deprecating humor. Participants enjoy hearing new information especially that which is memorable.

Conviction – Passion and empathy are keys for presentation success. Avatars of the speaking world capture audiences with charisma. The best speakers include King, Kennedy, Robbins, Clinton and many others. Participants even in business meetings enjoy listening to those passionate about the subject.

Timely – Presentations must be time honored. Research proves that business meetings and classroom training are too long. Keep meetings succinct and agenda bound. No meeting should last longer than 45 minutes to one hour.

Information -Dependent – The best meetings have agendas and stick to them. Every meeting must have an opening three to four main points and closure. Do not offer similar bromides others do. If you want to run an effective meeting then you must honor the framework of an agenda with only three to four main points. This framework keeps meetings focused and energetic.

Close – Our work over 27 years proves that over 82% of meetings have little if any closure. Every meeting must have a summary of key points and a call to action. For a keynote presentation this is imperative, a classroom breakout- a return on investment and for the general business meeting- completeness of task.

Evaluation – On completion of any meeting take a few moments to digress your presentation for evaluation. Never focus on the rote “smile sheets” handed to participants, simply review your work and areas that you believe might need improvement.

There is no such thing as a flawless presentation. Even the “best” professionals mar their performances. The key is to not worry, remain relaxed and most important- have a conversation. The best presenters have a plan, know their purpose, speak with passion and hold their presence. Yet, the most imperative tool for any speaker is practice. So, for your next speech remember to PRACTICE Your Presentation©. Now make it happen!

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