Creatively Conscious,  Freelance Life,  The Artist Boat

Feeling the Fear and Speaking it Anyway – my top 5 professional presentation tips

Gosh guys I have been waiting to find 30minutes to type up this post for you – I am too thrilled that ALL my presentations and public speaking for the year are over and I didn’t turn into an anxious wreck in the process (well maybe just once).

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I have really really struggled with presenting to large groups of people – I don’t seem to mind so much once I am stood up and in full flow but in the weeks leading up and in prep I am TERRIFIED and always worried nerves might get the better of me and I won’t be able to articulate what is really important to for people to hear.

I wanted to share with you some tips I’ve learnt to help the whole process feel a little easier as a gift to you for your back pocket should you ever need it…

  1. Who’s there?

Find out who you’ll be speaking to,  how many people will there be, what are their backgrounds and jobs, how do they connect to the subject you’re speaking on.  Keep your audience in mind and tell them something about yourself from the off.  At the last presentation I did I told them about visits to my local library as a 6 year old as it was relevant to the subject I was speaking on. 📚 👧

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2. Write out what you want to say… 

I usually write out everything I want to say in word – follow the who, what, why, where, when format and then use the voice reader in word to listen to how it sounds.  I then print it and read it like a script and practise and cut things out to clean it up and time it. I don’t like to speak for longer than 20mins as I feel like that’s my personal concentration span so I usually ask for between 5-20mins.

3. Decide on Visual Qs 

This is especially important if you are presenting as part of a programme.  If you have the option don’t pick the slot after lunch – everyone is saturated with information by that point and full of carbs!   My visuals range from slides to film, handouts to physical props depending on the nature of the presentation.  It depends who the presentation is for.  I actually really dislike slides as I can never seen to use them the way I’d like and they take me soooo long to design so I usually just use engaging photos and take my prompts from a print out.

4. Check your presentation with someone

My partner Dave is so helpful as he works outside of my little echo-chamber so tells me the truth when something is unclear – I also try and ask colleagues for feedback by sending my word document if there’s time and capacity.

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5. On the day

Get there early so you can ‘feel’ the room a little – understand the layout, how big you will need to make your voice if you haven’t got a mic, check your tech.  During the presentation make sure you make eye contact with someone who looks interested for that little boost and don’t look at the person scrolling on their mobile phone!

Stand however you are comfortable and try to take in everyone sitting there – keep your notes in your hand but try to speak from the heart.   Pause more than you think you need to.  Practise active feet, some belly breaths, roll your shoulders back and be confident – you are the expert on what you have to say.  Ask for questions and say people can catch you at lunch/ afterwards.

Hope you find those tips helpful and here are three more resources I would hugely recommend;

A podcast – hashtag authentic with Sara and Viv Groskop

A book – Viv Groskop’s ‘How to own the room; women and the art of brilliant speaking’ 

An online talk – Amy Cuddy and her body language ted talk is one of my absolute faves!

The Shift – a calming breathing device.

How are you with presentations?  Ted Talk pro or terrified of being seen – let’s chat!  I’m over on instagram @creatively.conscious

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