Welcome to the Christmas issue of
Markets View. It maybe rather contrary to the happy thoughts and
wishes, which are traditional at this time of year, but this issue of
Markets View looks at the fear so often associated with speaking in
public. By recognising why people are nervous of standing up and giving
a presentation we can start to address those concerns and reduce their
impact. In fact, you can learn how to redirect the nervous energy
produced, to improve your presentations.
In this issue, there is also a short
snippet on what to do this New Year’s Eve and I continue my series of
the A to Z of Effective Business Presentations. This issue we are onto
the letter "
Feel the fear
frightened by the prospect of having to stand up to speak to a room full
of people? Does you anxiety level rise when you are about to give a
presentation? If so you are not alone. Many people are frightened of
public speaking. A survey in the USA actually put public speaking ahead
of death as the number one public fear. This strikes me as rather odd,
because taken to its logical conclusion it means that Americans would
prefer to be in the coffin rather than giving the eulogy at a funeral.
Even so, it is undeniably true that
many people are nervous about giving a presentation and this can often
be detrimental to their performance. To overcome this fear, we first
need to understand what it is about giving a presentation that people
find so terrifying.
People are by nature pack animals
who prefer to remain as one of the group.
When we stand up
give a presentation, we are contradicting our natural behaviour.
Rather than staying
with the pack, we are isolating ourselves. By
standing out front, the speaker is stating that he/she
is different from
the rest of the group. Not only do we have to stand out in front of the
actually have to face them eye to eye. Definitely a
position of conflict!
Having dared to be different, we
then start to worry about our credentials. Is my material good enough,
can I present it properly, what will the audience think? Then of course
there are all the confidence sucking thoughts about what I look like, do
I know what I’m talking about, can they see my knees shaking, will I be
able to read my notes, will the slides work, have I put them in the
right order, and so on and so on.
The main reasons for fear or
Fear of performing badly
Fear of the audience and their reaction
Fear that your material is not good
overcome the fear of presenting
The first thing to remember is that
people rarely look nervous. People will not notice that your knuckles
are turning white, or that your knees are shaking. And even if they do,
they will probably be sympathetic, remembering the last time they did a
The audience are just people, they
have similar fears, doubts and inabilities as you. There are various
tricks, which you can use to remind yourself that the audience are just
ordinary people. Winston Churchill is reputed to have imagined that his
audience were all in the nude. Franklin Roosevelt used to imagine that
every one of them had a hole in his sock. Conjuring up these pictures
in your mind is designed to make the audience feel more like ordinary
people, who in fact they are.
The main way to overcome the fear
that your performance will not be good enough or that your material is
weak is through thorough preparation and practise. After all, poor
preparation produces perfectly pathetic presentations. So think through
the OSRAM components (Objective – Speaker – Room – Audience –
Material ) and practise your presentation many times before you give it
for real. This will help give you the confidence to succeed.
One of the most comforting thoughts
is that your audience want you to succeed. From the very outset, they
are on your side. It is very rare to have an audience who does not want
you to succeed, after all why would they be there. Why waste their time
listening to someone who does not have anything worth listening to.
Another comforting thought is that,
more often than not, you are presenting because you know something that
the audience do not. They want to hear what you have to say.
When we are nervous, it is all to
easy to forget to breath properly. You stand up ready to present, start
your opening sentence and find that you are out of breath before you
finish it. This starves your body of oxygen and increases the state of
anxiety. There is of course a simple cure, before you start to talk,
take deep breaths using both your abdomen and chest to fill your lungs
with lovely fresh invigorating air. In the same way as athletes start
deep breathing before they start running to maximise the amount of
oxygen in their blood stream, you should adopt the same practice. When
you first stand up in front of your audience, smile, look around the
room, take a few deep breaths and then start your presentation. Do not
rush in and do not wait until you are out of breath before you start to
Taking deep breaths is also one of
the best ways of countering the fear, which is often associated with
public speaking. So if you are nervous beforehand, which is a perfectly
normal, practise breathing deeply. Place you hand on your abdomen and
feel it go in and out with each breath, counting to five when you
breathe in and again when you breathe out.
Luckily enough the way we act and
speak when we are excited and enthusiastic is not dissimilar from the
way we are affected by nervous energy.
After all it is all energy and
driven by adrenaline. So rather then worrying about our nervousness XE
"nervousness" before a presentation, use that nervous energy to inject
some enthusiasm into your presentation. In this way, pre-presentation
nerves can actually help us to be livelier and enthral the audience.
This New Year
The New Year is traditionally the
time to make resolutions about how one will improve oneself over the
coming year. If you haven’t already thought of a resolution, may I
suggest resolving to be "
a better presenter"
. Like any resolution this
will take time and effort. You may need to volunteer to give more
presentations and set time aside to prepare for them, but I guarantee it
will be effort that is well rewarded by your peers, colleagues and
managers. If you feel the need for a kick-start, book on to my
presentation skills training course on 25th January.
Now that you have your New Year’s
resolution sorted out, what are you doing to celebrate this New Year’s
Eve? If you are looking for somewhere to go to enjoy a big night out,
or maybe somewhere to stay for a quite night in take a look at
www.thisnewyearseve.com . It is a website dedicated to listing the
best places to go this New Years Eve. Whether it is a cool nightclub, a
country house hotel or just a local pub you should be able to find
somewhere to celebrate the New Year, in a style of your choice.
to Z of Effective Presentations
this issue it is the turn for the "
s, including: Dress and Doing It
What you should wear when giving a
presentation all depends on the nature of the presentation and the dress
of the audience.
Given that you are your single
biggest visual aid in getting your message across, it is important that
you look good.
If you look out of place it will
affect how well your message is taken. Although many businesses have a
dress down policy, if you are presenting to a business audience, it is
usually advisably for a man to wear a suit and tie. Shoes should be
polished, as it is surprising how much is assumed about a business
person, based on the state of their footwear.
If you are addressing a group of
factory workers who are all dressed in overalls and you want to
influence their behaviour, then a more casual appearance may be
beneficial. You will appear less like one of the managers and more like
one of the team. Every situation is different but there is never an
excuse for not caring about your appearance.
In Britain, many men take the view
that what they look like should not matter. Looking different from
others is just part of their eccentricity. Being eccentric is fine
being lazy is not.
If you feel good in the clothes that
you are wearing, it will help to boost your confidence.
D is for Doing It
Confucius once said
hear - I forget.
- I remember.
- I understand
And not surprisingly, he is right.
Have you ever noticed that if you drive to a new destination, somewhere
you have never been before, the next time you go there you will remember
the way. But if you were taken there by someone else, the likelihood is
that you could not find it again without resorting to the map. The
difference is that as the driver you actually did it, while as a
passenger you literally just went along for the ride.
Are you good with people’s names? A
tip I learnt is, after you are introduced to someone, try and use their
name in conversation, when you are talking to them and then again when
you say goodbye. It will help you to remember their name. This is
because you were using it, you did something with the name not just
hearing it and forgetting it.
If you can, get your audience
involved in the presentation, get them doing something, they will
remember it far better and longer than if you just tell them about it.
This is why entertainers, particular
in that great British tradition of pantomime, encourage the audience to
shout and cheer.
Hands up who has come from xxxx?
Putting your hand in the air as you say this reinforces the action that
you want the audience to copy and encourages them to put their hands up.
Try to think of ways you can get
your audience to participate rather than just sitting there as
passengers. For some audiences and some presentations, it is impractical
to get them all under taking a physical activity. However, you can
always get the audience thinking, which is the next best thing to doing.
Use a rhetorical question – give them time to think about the answer.
Ask them a question and get a show of hands. Get them to imagine a
situation and think through how they would handle it. In effect, they
are doing it in their heads, which may not be quite as good as actually
doing it but is far more memorable than just listening to it.
Thank you for reading this far
hope you have found this issue of Markets View interesting and
informative. Don’t forget to check out my new website at
www.businesspresentation.biz there are free presentation tips and
tricks to download, my ebook "
The A to Z of Effective Business
and an Excel workbook that will reveal your favourite
Don't forget about the new tele-conferencing service. Put 0871 230
8892 in your mobile phone today, you never know when you might need
you know someone who could benefit from training or coaching in
presentation skills, please pass on my contact details.