Presenting is something that people do all the time. People present at work meetings, a comedy open mic, or simply just introducing yourself to a group of friends. Learning to perform in public can be an exciting, and rewarding process.
To present like the greats, it’s best to start with the rules they followed.
Most advice given to social problems are simple, just be yourself. This may be helpful to those that get in their own way; however, many people such as myself learn from and prefer clear-cut directions and specific examples. Here’s practical advice that you can take into effect from today.
1. Keep your Chin up, Literally
Have you heard of the saying, “If you keep your head down you might as well frown” No? probably because I just made it up on the spot.
Healthy posture inspires confidence, here’s an easy tip, always keep your chin raised above your Adam’s apple, and/or collarbone. It might feel like you’re over tilting your neck in bougie fashion; that’s completely normal
When you’re not looking at the audience, they can’t see your facial expressions. This takes away from your message, especially in more intimate settings. It also makes you look nervous.
Poor body language makes you lose confidence in your self. It’s been proven that proper posture helps anxiety.
2. Pace Yourself
Most people fear silence, no matter what kind of presentation it is. Silence is your friend. Believe it or not, humans are terrible multi-taskers. When you’re speaking, give the audience time to digest your previous points.
Slow and steady is the key to digestion. Even people that eat quickly, digest less of their food compared to the slower eaters.
You’re proposing an idea at a work meeting for your company to track work orders more efficiently by using QuickBooks. You’ve practiced all week for this presentation.
Unfortunately, there is no action taken on your proposal. Even though you presented all the benefits of your plan.
Why? Because they did not digest what you said.
You might notice that the best ideas are not always listened to. They don’t even make it from point A to point B. Doesn’t matter how great an idea is, or how funny a joke is if nobody understands it.
The key to this is to pause after every 1-2 sentences. This gives time for people to digest what you’re saying and take their time to see the benefits of what you’re proposing.
This is a great example of pacing done by stand-up comedians. You realize that the audience only laughs after he pauses. The longer he pauses, the stronger the laughs he gets.
If you have time prepare for a presentation in advance, that’s what you must do. The best cure for public speaking anxiety is knowing what you’re going to say in advance.
What does this look like?
List your topics, and put them in order e.g. If you’re selling a car, prepare a mental list of what you’re going to discuss
Step 1: Talk about Exterior
Step 2: Talk about Interior
Step 3: Discuss maintenance
Step 4: Discuss Payment
I write down a similar list and review it a few times before every presentation. Extremely helpful, especially when I first started.
Because this is your insurance. Forgetting what you were going to say isn’t that big of a deal. You can always improvise on the spot, we do this in everyday natural conversations.
Forgetting what you’re going to talk about gives you no room to improvise and can completely derail a presentation. Experienced public speakers try their best to avoid this.
4. How do I know I memorized enough?
The answer to this question is simple. How does two-time NBA champion Stephen Curry know when he shot enough 3 pointers during a warmup before a huge game? When it feels natural and effortless, to the point where he doesn’t need to think about the steps.
You should be able to present your future presentation off the top of your head. Even if you didn’t sleep for 24 hours straight. I’m not saying that’s a likely scenario, but memorizing is much more difficult under pressure.
How many times have you forgotten something valuable because you were in a rush to an important meeting or a similar situation?
This means setting a timer and reciting your presentation at least 5 times in a row without needing major pauses or errors. Even when you get nervous, you’ll still be able to present off muscle memory.
5. Speak with Purpose
Why are you speaking? Do not speak without a clear objective. This leads to rambling. Have you ever met someone that started off speaking about one thing, and then they go off topic, and the conversation becomes a bit pointless?
Your words are currency, they won’t be taken seriously if they’re easily accessed. The less you speak the more value your words hold because they are a rare commodity. Don’t get me wrong, you’re allowed to be talkative or joke around with people.
Before you speak, think to yourself: Is this funny, informative, positive? Do I think this comment will add any type of value? Don’t get caught up in what other people think, confidence comes from within.
As long as you believe the words that come out of your mouth are important, that’s what they become.
We’ve all been guilty of over complaining or whining. The worst habit of all, oversharing just to fill the void of silence.
People will be interested in what you have to say when they realize you provide more value.
Making a quick mental note on approaching presentations and people makes your life easier.
For example, let’s say you’re speaking to a girl at a bar, make a mental note.
“I’m going to introduce myself to that girl at the bar. Ask a couple Questions about her life, get her number and ask for a date.”
Let me break down the key points of this example
1. The opener
The most important part of speaking is starting off strong. First impressions last. If you know what you’re saying at the beginning, the audience will have confidence in what you need to say, and let their guard down.
Once people are hooked in, they tend to stay along for the ride. Have you ever watched the first season of a show? Then continued to watch the continuing seasons even though they weren’t nearly as good?
Having objectives allows you to have productive conversations. It’s easier to act appropriately when you’re given guidelines. The example above had four objectives: Introduce yourself, ask questions, get number, ask on a date.
Now, you can’t get lost in a conversation because you know what you’re talking about.
The most important and simple skill that many people lack. Everything in the world is given to the closer. Without closing: You can’t turn an interview into a job, turn a conversation into a date, turn a presentation into a proposal.
We always appreciate a good closer.
Nobody’s favorite movie with a terrible ending,
This might seem unnatural, but I assure you it’s not. Human’s are a tribe species and communicating with others is key to thriving in society. The more people you know, the further you go. Do you think that the smartest people get the best jobs? unfortunately nope. Always Remember, as soon as you’re interacting with other people, everything is personal.
6. Don’t know what to say? Ask the Audience a Question
You’re in the middle of a presentation, mouth dry, brain foggy, you don’t know what to say. Don’t worry, presenting is a difficult job, the hardest working talk show hosts, speak for 4- 5 hours a week. Try asking an open-ended question, instead of a yes or no question. This engages the audience while giving you time to recollect your thoughts.
Example of questions a presenter might ask when giving a presentation about teenage sleeping habits to a class of teenagers.
Presenter: Why do you think teenagers don’t get much sleep
Presenter: How should we get teenagers to get more hours
Presenter: When should we open schools and why?
Presenter: What is a good sleeping environment.
The trick to open-ended questions is asking a question that can’t be solved with one word, questions that can lead to a story. Never get scared to expand on a question.
Another trick is to make a statement and then asks somebody’s opinion
Teenager: I feel like I barely get sleep
Presenter: I think the stress of completing homework while doing extracurricular activities makes it tough to make time for sleep.
Presenter: What do you think about that?