Practice Makes Pefect
Throughout our career in college and beyond, we will find ourselves in a situation where we need to give a presentation or speech. For many, this is the most terrifying experience they can imagine. Standing in a room full of people on display for everyone to see. The worry overcomes you, and you feel as though at any second, the meal you just had you are about to lose.
You begin sweating profusely, and your nerves have gotten the better of you as your hands begin shaking. At this point, all you want to do is turn around and run away. Unfortunately, running away is probably not an option, so here are some suggestions to help you out.
I cannot stress how important it is to prepare for that presentation or speech. Do your research, write out the speech in a logical order, and practice. There is nothing worse than watching someone give a speech who is reading from their notes the entire time with virtually no eye contact. Not only will it make you look unprofessional, but the audience will be bored out of their minds.
It isn’t necessary to memorize every word. What is most important is to memorize your key points. If you have done your research and have rehearsed, some notecards with your key points are all you will need. The rest will come naturally.
How you present yourself will determine whether you are able to engage and connect with your audience. Being aware of your body language and how to use it effectively will go a long way toward keeping your audience entertained. Believe it or not, where you are looking, what your arms are doing, and how you are standing, matters.
If you are looking down and avoiding eye contact, this shows a lack of confidence and is the worst thing you can do when giving a speech or presentation. It is the same when you are looking above the crowd to the back of the room. It gives the illusion that you are looking past them for something better. It isn’t necessary to barrel into someone by staring at them. This will make the audience uncomfortable. What I suggest is to pan the room with momentarily with eye contact. This will help you to engage without it being uncomfortable.
Your arms can work for you as well. Think about it. If you see someone standing with their arms crossed in front of them it makes them seem closed off, just as if their arms are glued to their sides makes them seem stiff and nervous. Use your arms and hands to your advantage by allowing them to make a point. We have all seen people who talk with their hands. This will help to show passion in your subject matter.
When giving a speech or presentation, you want to be professional. Standing in front of your audience completely still or in too relaxed position isn’t going to add to their confidence in your professionalism. Stand up with good posture. Occasionally take a few steps to either side. This will help the audience on either side of you feel connected with you and allow you to show more confidence.
Visual aids go a long way to help with your presentation or speech. Make sure you are organized beforehand. Make sure all your materials are easy to see and read. If you are using PowerPoint, make sure the facility has the necessary equipment you need to present it. There is nothing worse than trying to read visual aides that are jumbled together, or where the font is too small. This may not be considered your typical visual aid, but make sure you have dressed appropriately! If it is a professional presentation, dress for the occasion. You don’t want to show up in jeans and a t-shirt when everyone else is dressed in a suit.
Practice, Practice Practice!
Your presentation or speech may be well researched. It may be the best-written speech anywhere, but if you don’t practice your speech beforehand you will look unprepared, you will forget your material, and all your body language steps to help you stand out will be out the window. The practice also helps you to be more familiar with your material and makes you more comfortable which in the end, will go a long way in helping with those nerves!
I am one of those freaks of nature who has no problem standing up in front of hundreds of people to give a speech, as long as I am prepared. I cannot stress how important preparation and practice are. It will be the difference between standing in from of everyone making a fool of yourself and delivering a fantastic presentation!