Sweat on your upper lip, hands shaking, knees knocking, and you’re so afraid that you’re feeling like you’re going to puke. Sound familiar? It’s called public speaking and this happens to the best of us my friend. I’ve been guilty of this type of dread too many times.
I’ve tried all of the remedies; pretending that the audience is naked, looking over everyone’s heads to the back wall of the room, or reminding myself that I shouldn’t worry because they aren’t listening anyway. Yet getting over the wrecking ball of fear that builds before a presentation is daunting.
The question is, why are we so afraid of public speaking? I mean what is the worst that’s going to happen? You screw up, lose your train of thought, or maybe misquote a fact or figure. I’m going to tell you something, no one will be the wiser if you make a mistake. And those that might know will certainly understand, and those that don’t can save it.
Whether you’re presenting to a conference room of colleagues, or a stadium full of people, four simple rules will allow you to become a champ at presenting. These rules are what have led one of the tech sector’s best, Tom Mendoza, Vice Chairman of Net App (named one of Fortune’s 25 best global companies to work for), to become one of the most sought after public speakers of our day.
Here are four simple tips from Mendoza:
Goal Setting. Determine what you want your audience to feel when they leave the room, rather than what you want them to think. You’re not going to change behavior by trying to modify someone’s way of thinking. But if you come at them with passion, you have a much better chance of engagement than if you just read a bunch of slides to them.
Remember, stats and figures aren’t sexy, compelling, or memorable. You will be much more prepared for your presentation if you pair down the slides, don’t worry what the screen behind you says, and you just talk from the heart.
Tell a Story. A great way to create memorability is to tell stories. Stories help you connect with your audience and they help you become relatable and authentic. Mendoza suggests having three stories in your back pocket that you can tell along the way, that of course create a narrative thread throughout your presentation.
This reminds me of my fav, Brett Favre. If you saw him make his acceptance speech at the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony then you will know what it means to deliver something extraordinary. He spoke with heart, off the cuff, and DID NOT read from a script. He told stories about what made him one of the best players in NFL history. And I’m telling you, fan or not, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Be Aware of Your Body language. Don’t fumble around with your clothes, your hair, or a stack of notes because it just doesn’t look good. And it creates an air of fear and anxiety. Allow some freedom with your hands and use large gestures that visually pull people into your thought process.
Look Them in the Eye. It will be an epic fail if your eyes are darting around the room. It will make you look ensure of yourself and uncomfortable with your material. Make sure that you look right into people’s eyes when you’re presenting. Lock eyes with one person, make your point, pause, and then start again with another audience member.
Lastly, if you’re looking for some additional tips of the trade, Mendoza highly recommends Toast Masters.
You’ve got this. You can present like a champion, like you own the room. You’re on your way to better, bigger, and brighter presentations and speaking engagements.
Make sure that you come back to read more of our blogs and to find out about Tom Mendoza’s thoughts on leadership vs. management.