A case of pre-meeting jitters could make or break your big presentation. Whether you’re presenting to one or 100 people, the pressure’s the same. You will be presenting to an engaged audience on a topic you know tremendous amounts of information about. You know that every word will be absorbed. Every sentence, every word will be meticulously analysed. Any potential slip-up will be noticed; any incorrect information will be picked up on. The audience will probably include both senior and junior members of staff. And your presentation could determine the direction of the company. This presentation, that you’ve scheduled just sixty minutes of your life for, could be a career-defining moment.
Everyone goes through similar pressures, whether or not you’re a seasoned presenter. However, everyone handles them differently. You can pick up new methods by watching other people present or by being part of presentations within meetings. You can also take inspiration from Steve Jobs’ historic presentations, for example, to understand strong delivery. Or you could watch politicians to see how they handle answering questions when they’re put on the spot.
In short, there are lots of things you can do to calm those nerves and, as always, preparation is key. But we wanted to make it easier for you, so we walked around the Drum office and asked our web-meeting specialists for their very best tips for calming their nerves. And because we’re nice like that, we’ve compiled them all in a handy little list right here:
Know your topic
Before you even get as far as deciding to present on a topic, ask yourself if you actually know the subject. How well do you know it? Be honest! If there are gaps in your knowledge, then begin your research, double time! It will be obvious within your presentation whether or not you truly know the subject. The more you know about it, the more confident you will feel. And confidence speaks volumes.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
It’s that R word rearing its unpopular head. No-one really enjoys mentioning it, let alone actually putting it into practice. But that R word – rehearsing, that is – can make all the difference. It’s important so that you can recognise your limits and weaknesses, but also so you can get initial feedback from a handful of colleagues or friends. Other people will spot things you hadn’t previously noticed or weren’t sure about. And you can judge the audience reaction to certain points. Do they smile at that bit you thought would inject some humour? Are they falling asleep? Do they seem distracted? Or maybe they’re super-engaged (well done if so!). These are easy, yet priceless, ways to discover how well your presentation is coming across, allowing you to make any necessary changes before the live event.
Know your way around your chosen web meeting solution
You’ve rehearsed your presentation. You know the topic inside out. Now it’s time to get to grips with your web meeting solution, the tool you’ll be using to meet everyone within the meeting and present to them. As you know – and as we’ve mentioned before – each web solution varies. But here at Drum, we know our solution like the back of our hand (that’s really very well). And you need to make sure you know *your* chosen solution just as well. Do you know how to upload your presentation? Which tools are suitable and where to find them? Do you know about meeting replay and screen sharing features? Do you need to update your software or is it browser-based like Drum? If you make sure you’ve got to grips with how your solution works, then you’ve got one less thing to worry about come presentation time.
Prepare for questions
Always prepare for the unexpected. You may have run through the process a million times, thought of every different possible outcome. But somehow, a meeting attendee finds a question to ask about something that never crossed your mind and you might be temporarily flummoxed. This is quite possibly the hardest of our suggestions to train. But you can still help prepare yourself by thinking up, and preparing answers for, unusual questions, the ones which other people will be most unlikely to consider. And don’t worry, these types of questions are likely to be few and far between.
Create some generic answers which you feel could answer a variety of questions. In addition, put together some extra slides or add some additional back-up information to some parts of your presentation. Then you have plenty of pre-prepared material to fall back on, if and when you receive a question in a tricky area.
Grab a pen and paper
In the modern world, we seem to have forgotten about the importance of pen and paper. It provides us with a chance to take notes away from anything, anywhere. Pen-and-paper notes are more personal and it’s really easy to quickly jot down key points throughout the meeting. Your notes can be the most powerful tool you can use to scope out other presentations as well as to understand your audience. The idea is to be collecting information constantly to help you shape and inform your future presentations.
This is another area where web meetings come into their own: you can sit at your desk with a pen and paper while you’re presenting. In face-to-face presentations, on the other hand, you’re on your feet and there’s more distance between you and your trusty piece of paper.
We’re confident that these tips will help you alleviate any pre-meeting nerves and make the most of your meetings. Every successful presenter uses a set of foundations similar to these – they allow you to deliver a successful presentation and keep your audience engaged. Don’t be the presenter who leaves attendees wondering why they attended. Instead, practise these tips and be the one who keeps the audience engaged, delivers an hour-long presentation that seems like 10 minutes, and gets people asking questions.