Effective Presentation Skills Training #1 Master The Mindset
Your boss harrumphed, “Erh Hum! This pitch/ presentation is pivotal for the company, we have to clinch this deal!”. Your fight-or-flight senses start tingling. You know what is coming; it is a nemesis that you are all too familiar with.
“Who can represent us to deliver this presentation?” – The question that sends a blanket of hush descending upon the meeting room. The meeting room turns so silent that you can’t hear anything except for two sounds – the rattling of the air-conditioner and your throbbing heart beat.
“I can do it boss, delivering the presentation itself is not an issue…but what I’m concerned with is…” a colleague of yours, sitting right across, replies with such conviction and confidence. Wait! What!? What do you mean by [delivering the presentation itself is not an issue…]?! What you are momentarily stunned by is the gumption to, almost blithely, take on a high-stakes presentation without hesitation – something that you will need hours, sometimes days or weeks, to convince yourself that you can do. “Presentation is not my thing. I am an introvert. I can’t present well. What if I fail to engage the audience?” – sound familiar?
How is it possible to treat delivering presentations like breathing air? How is it possible to summon that level of confidence to BELIEVE that the presentation will go well and the audience will be engaged? There may be multiple techniques when it comes to crafting, rehearsing and delivering presentations – but it all starts with mastering of the mind. Below are 3 tips to help you do just that!
Tip #1: Rebalance Your Imagination
Where does all that fear of presentations/ stage fright come from? The answer is simply – from ourselves. Our mind. It’s powerful because it can conjure up negative scenarios that stifle and cripple us. However, it can be equally powerful when it comes to making us feel good, feel confident, feel excited about the presentation, the reception from the audience, the outcome of delivering an effective presentation! The energies that you spend on worrying and speculating negative outcomes can be re-channelled to thinking of the optimistic scenarios. Such energies are merely “food for thought”, why not use it for something pleasant and uplifting? Think of every details of a successful presentation: a confident disposition & countenance, a rousing speech message, a thoroughly engaged audience, an impactful delivery, a thunderous round of applause, and most importantly (outcomes), securing that do-or-die deal for your company after your compelling presentation. In summary, re-channel energies into imagining the details of an effective presentation and the positivities it brings (audience appraisals, closed deals, career advancement).
“Use your imagination not to scare yourself to death, but to inspire yourself to life.”
– Adele Brookman
Tip #2: For Once, Please Side With Your Audience
A throng of menacing figures lies in front of you. Some levelling icy cold stares at you, some shooting fiery glares at you. You force a glop of saliva down your throat as you whip your head to the left – faces contorted in disgust and snarling teeth greet you. As you tentatively pan to your right, more and more fear-inducing expressions greet you – heartless disregard, arms drawn tightly towards the chest, fleeting eye contact, patronising attention that is betrayed by the frequent swiping of the phone.
At this point, you must be thinking, “Wait, am I reading the descriptions for the zombie troops of the Frost King from Game of Thrones?”
That’s exactly what most presenters see in their heads when they visualise their audience. Their imaginations usually demonise their audience and make it seem like the audience members are ravenous wolves waiting to devour him/ her alive!
However, coming from someone who does presentations for a living – from delivering keynote speeches to hundreds of conference/ seminar participants (200-1000 pax; both physical live stages to online Zoom conferences), to delivering full day training workshops (20-50 pax), to conducting weekly public speaking classes for children/ kids (8-12 pax), allow me to let you in on a secret – psst…that is never the case.
One or two audience members may be sour or rancorous about you taking the stage and acquiring all the limelight, therefore may display undesirable reactions/ expressions. But for the vast majority of the audience? Not at all 🙂
Such “nasty ghouls” rarely materialise, and your audience actually wants you to succeed! Your audience are there for a reason – from “to be entertained”, to “to be educated, to be inspired, to be informed” – and they took time to be there with you instead of doing anything else. Even if you fluff one or two lines, compared to losing the opportunity to be informed about your expert insights, it’s nothing at all. They are on your side – you wish to share your findings, your research, your insights, your recommendations, your proposals and they are there to receive. Be on their side too.
Tip #3: Be A Richard Branson
Harking back to the meeting room scenario at the start of this article, there might be a tendency in many of us to see it this way – “Sure, I’ll take on the task of delivering this all-important presentation when I have prepared myself enough by doing the following: spend 5 months mulling over stage fright and public speaking, spend a few days mustering the courage to begin researching for a preferred public speaking course for adults or effective presentation skills training course, finish the presentation skills training course, and only after a couple of years of honing those skills learnt.
Unfortunately, most of the time, that amount of time is a luxury. Worse, the self-imposed timeline is either too comforting (“I still have ample time…phew!”) or too daunting (“That takes too long and onerous! I might as well not start!”). Often, we procrastinate, dilly-dally, vacillate because of the fear of public speaking, the fear of uncertainties (lots of “what ifs” regarding the presentation). Whenever you find yourself mired in such a situation again, think of this quote from Sir Richard Branson, billionaire entrepreneur, business magnate and founder of Virgin group.
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
– Richard Branson
Look, there WILL ALWAYS be uncertainties when it comes to public speaking or presentation or investor pitching. No matter how prepared you are, how experienced you are, how confident you are, there WILL ALWAYS be elements we cannot control – from technical difficulties to audience reactions. Hence, why not just accept the task (the opportunity to deliver the crucial presentation for your boss/ company) first – THEN learn how to ace it later! Sometimes, a push is all you need and you will be amazed by what comes after. Why not push it yourself? Say yes first, then plan towards success later.
We’re excited to share with you more tips and strategies for delivering effective presentations (either through our free resources like YouTube channel or blog articles or even public speaking courses / presentation skills training program) BUT we also foresee that individuals will find this very first article of the series helpful even after going through all the training and practice. Why? Even seasoned presenters/ public speakers find self-doubts creeping back once in a while – when the pressure starts to mount (that make-or-break investment pitch, or business presentation, or public relations (PR) speech) – “Will the audience scrutinise me even more? Since they expect more from me, what if I can’t meet their expectations? What if something go wrong during the presentation? Have I prepared enough? Could I have done more?”. Save this article somewhere…and whip it out whenever you are about to take the stage. Relax, rebalance your imagination, collaborate with your audience, just do it (evaluate after it – be a Richard Branson).
By The Way…
If you’re keen to take your public speaking skills & presentation skills (either business/corporate presentation / training for presentation to clients / kids in-class presentation) to the next level so that you may communicate and deliver speeches with greater flair and charisma, feel free to check out our public speaking courses for adults and kids below!
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