if you are having issues like me – do the above :)
Life’s too short for dull presentations part 5 Anxiety
Anxiety – What can we do so we are not a quivering wreck when we stand up to speak?
Firstly let me bust a common myth – everyone gets nervous. Even professionals – its just that some people get used to it with experience and others learn to deal with it. The best advice I have ever heard about anxiety is ‘learn to change your state of mind’. For example…nerves are very helpful if we feel “Ready to rock” but if we are “Shaking with apprehension” that’s not so good. Speaker Steve McDermott says “I don’t get nervous, but sometimes it feels a bit like Christmas morning” – that has been so helpful for me.
Is there a way of rethinking your nerves? If we are nervous and run around being nervous, telling everyone we are nervous then guess what – you’ll be nervous. So acknowledge the nerves, but try and find ways to think differently. Sometimes I like to think of a time when a talk has gone really well and I think about that. Olympic divers do the same, apparently they visualise their dive again and again so that when they do it for real it’s like they have already been there. That sort of thinking or visualisation can help us get through some very tense moments.
Breathing well can also help before speaking – just try this now – breath in deeply through your nose for two seconds and then out of your mouth for four seconds, breath like that for a couple of minutes and you can feel the stress leave your body.
So, in a nutshell…keep breathing, control your negative thoughts, drink water, plan well and keep smiling – and it will feel much different, I promise.
Always remember the audience wont kill you, even if they don’t like you – they wont kill you! Have fun!
Life’s too short for dull presentations part 4 Delivery
You’ve probably heard that people retain information like this: 7% Verbal, 38% Vocal, 55% Visual (this is probably an underestimation by the way). But even so, it means that if we say some great stuff with a dull voice and bad body language our message is almost lost. For example I am not naturally the ‘smiliest’ person in the world, but I know now that I need to smile more when I speak – because it is key to great communication.
LESS IS MORE – Don’t talk for an hour about something you could have said in ten minutes. Some people live by the K.I.S.S. analogy here “keep it stupidly simple”. People have a three to seven minute attention span, even less if they are distracted or tired.
PRACTICE IS NOT OPTIONAL – Practice your talk in front of a mirror, especially the first minute so you feel comfortable when you get up. I really hate doing this so when I do I reward myself for doing it. The promise of a chocolate digestive can be a great motivator! You could also record or video yourself and listen to it later so you get more familiar with your content.
ONE MINUTE RULE – Grab their attention in the first minute or you have lost them. Anything appropriate (!) to get them in the room. Plus don’t forget you can introduce yourself after a few minutes – it doesn’t have to be at the beginning.
BE YOURSELF – Learn to be your self, don’t put on a special voice or change the way you speak, let your accent shine through.
ENGAGE – ‘Engage’ the people with an openness and willingness to allow questions. Don’t just ‘deliver stuff’ to them – they won’t listen unless they think you are the real deal anyway.
SMARTEN UP – Dress appropriately, or all people will “hear “ is the way you have dressed.
YOU ARE NOT HARRY HILL! – I have learnt the hard way that telling jokes is for comedians, not me. Jokes are very hard to do well and they often risk instantly dividing an audience, where as gentle humour about you and your life draws people in. Also reading out this “hilarious email I got the other day” is risky too as most spam and chain letter emails are often made up and very cheesy. Aim for a chuckle and a smile, not a belly laugh.
DO THE LIGHTHOUSE – As you speak naturally look around the room – making sure that you catch everyone’s eye for a brief moment, it makes them feel part of your talk.
WALK – Staring at notes or staying behind a lectern is a yawn. Walk around and engage your audience – practice it at the venue beforehand if you can and that will help you enormously. That’s what actors and singers do.
SIMON and GARFUNKEL – use the sound of silence once in a while, maybe after a story or a big point – it feels strange at first but can really help to engage the listener.
CHALLENGE – learn to challenge and not confront – there is a subtle difference that makes all the difference.
KEEP TO TIME – I often ask someone for a two-minute warning so I have time to wrap up even if I am still in full-flow. Going over time doesn’t win you any friends, so be disciplined.
END WELL – Learn your ending, so you know when to end and with a memorable conclusion.
Meat and gravy – don’t forget there has to be ‘meat with the gravy’ or more than just froth, otherwise what’s the point.
TUNE INTO V.H.F. – People learn in different ways – these are often categorized as V.H.F…Visual, Hearing, Feeling. So try to include phrases that use a bit of V.H.F. E.g. “its very clear” “can you hear the message here?” “can you feel the tension?”