Adjusting to the lights on stage, your vision gets clouded for a while before you’re finally able to get a glimpse of the crowd. Seated silently, with a few chatting in the corner, the audience stares at you, waiting for you to begin the presentation. Mic in hand, struck at the sight of the number of people looking up to you, you tremble. “This is going to be bad”, you think and stay quiet for another 5 minutes. Altering your stance for the nth time, you close your eyes and utter the first sentence, stammering.
If this is the dream you’ve dreaded the most, you can relate with everybody who gets nervous on stage, stutters for words and fiddles with the mic. Coming forward to give a presentation on stage isn’t everybody’s cup of tea and is undeniably a major concern for most people. Where some people find it easy, others are scared of going on stage and the mere thought of it makes them nervous.
But you can control this fear and learn to manage stress at that particular instant with a few tricks. If you know how to handle yourself and are well-versed with what you’re actually going to speak about, you might end up delivering a great presentation. So, here we are with a list of the noteworthy tricks that work their magic when you have to give a presentation.
1. Set a target
Before you start preparing yourself for the big day, ensure that you have an answer to the most important question: What do you want to achieve with your presentation? Do you want to inform the audience or do you want to entertain them? Finding answers to this will help you set a defined target. You’ll be able to evaluate how you would like to progress during the presentation and decide the topics you want to cover.
The better defined your goal is, the easier it will be for you to plan the presentation. Write down the areas where you would like to emphasize more, including the ones that might need voice modulation.
2. Understand your audience
In addition to listing your goal for the presentation, you must also have a brief knowledge of who your audience is and what they would expect from your presentation. Knowing the people you will be delivering the presentation in front of, will help you analyze the crucial aspects of your presentation. Accordingly, you can add a few necessary twists and turns that will appeal to your audience.
Once you are able to relate to your audience, you will create a presentation that is easily understandable to them. You will be able to empathize with them better.
3. Important Points
Before you set sail on the mission of delivering the presentation, make sure you prepare a list of important points that you want to cover. Arrange them in a logical order. And so, instead of writing down an entire speech and mugging it up, you can memorize the crucial points of the presentation and speak accordingly.
This practice will put you at ease and you will be comfortable and relaxed while delivering the said presentation, without having the fear of missing out on vital information. Also, add short answers to the probable questions. Once you have an idea about everything you have to say and are well-versed with the topic of the presentation, you won’t stammer. Brownie points!
4. Non-verbal communication
One thing that undoubtedly adds more value to your presentation, is the way you present it. Apart from the points you put forth, your body language speaks volumes. So, if your presentation is not in line with your body language, the audience loses interest in the presentation. To strengthen your hold on the audience and to add considerable value to the message you are trying to convey, make sure that your words and body are in sync. Follow the tips below to inculcate body gestures while presenting:
- Do not move about on the stage randomly. Stand still while conveying your message and then move. Repeat this pattern.
- Be conscious of the edges of any raised platforms near you. You would not want to tumble off the stage mid-way.
- Avoid playing with your tie, hair or even chewing your lip. This reflects nervousness and insecurity.
- Do not let your gaze skitter through the audience. Let it settle in different areas on different people.
5. Practice? Practice!
Do not try to memorize your presentation or speech. Just don’t do it.
Instead, practice in small steps, taking baby steps at a time. Take up a topic, see what you would like to include in it. Eliminate irrelevant information. Keep rehearsing with a particular point unless you get comfortable with the content you would like to deliver on stage. If you are looking forward to using handouts or visuals on stage, practice with them.
Once you are done practicing one segment, move on to the next, until you are finally confident about being able to give the entire presentation in one go. Then, work on timing it and see if it fits the allotted time. Remember: the more you practice, the less nervous you will be on stage and the better your final presentation will be.
It takes time to get accustomed to speaking on stage. You will have to prepare yourself, maybe even stand in front of the mirror and talk to yourself to boost your confidence. But once you are past the initial phase, the process will get easier for you. You will improve with time and will be able to give the much-awaited presentation like a pro. Keep practising and you will nail it! All the best.