Without any doubt, presentations are daunting. Who doesn’t suffer from sweating palms, itching arms and hundreds of different scenarios going through your head on what could go wrong?
Anyone who tells you otherwise is undoubtedly a seasonal expert who present on a daily basis, whether that be face to face or in a webinar environment. Nerves, without making you more nervous, can make or break a presentation. A presenter who comes across as nervous is unlikely to project confidence and grab the desired attention from the audience.
You will find, with time and practice, your nerves become easier to handle and you will develop your own techniques for overcoming these nerves. However, if you haven’t reached this stage yet, here are our top tips to help you overcome those pesky meeting presentation nerves.
Know the topic
There is nothing worse for your nerves than presenting on a topic you do not fully understand. While it does not mean you have to be an expert on your topic and know everything relating to it. However, it is important to know what you are talking about when presentation day arrives. Fully comprehending your topic will allow you to add and supplement your existing points with more material if you end your presentation earlier than expected. This will make you appear more prepared and therefore, make your information more appealing to the audience.
We have all at one point or another made the mistake of assuming a presentation could be delivered in a timely manner. Only to realise on presentation day that you either have too little content or even worse, too much content which you are unable to fully cover. Thus, making you look unorganised and incompetent which will unlikely be a positive quality in the eyes of the audience. To avoid this, it is impossible to stress how important it is to time yourself beforehand. Doing a run-through on your presentation will guarantee you not only have enough time to cover everything you need to but will also allow you to critically evaluate the information you are presenting.
Practice makes perfect, too much practice takes the flow away
Although you need to be comfortable with the material of your presentation, you should try to refrain from memorising it. It is true, being familiar with your content makes you feel more confident and practising beforehand will help you successfully deliver on the day. However, practising without completely memorising your material will also allow you to speak more naturally. Therefore, allowing the information you are discussing to appear more genuine. Additionally, another tactic you could implement is to practice the beginning part of your presentation more than any other part so you seem more relaxed at the very beginning and give a successful first impression.
The prompt cards. A tactic to put your presentation nerves to rest is to make prompt cards. This will allow you to expand on the information you already have on the screen. The key here is the quantity of content on these cards. Do not put complete sentences on the cards but instead, put bullet points of information you are mostly likely to forget during your presentation. Moreover, colour coding the information will allow you to structure the information on your prompt cards in a more organised way, making it easier to read throughout the presentation.
The secret to deliver effective presentations is to realise it is not about completely getting rid of nerves, but it’s about managing those nerves in an effective way in order to connect with the audience. We all suffer from them. If you are looking for more tips on preparing for a meeting or a presentation, read our article on how to calm your pre-meeting jitters.