A fear of public speaking, and therefore delivering poor presentations can hold you back. Those who aren’t afraid to speak up get ahead even with a bad idea! So if your ideas are going unnoticed because stress and anxiety are causing you to fail at communicating effectively, then check out our top 5 tips to becoming a better public speaker and giving an awesome presentation:
1. Be Confident
Beforehand, find a quiet and peaceful place to relax and visualise being adequate. Don’t imagine suddenly being your favourite star on stage (this is more like wishful thinking!) Focus on being calm, voice steady, body relaxed and feeling confident that you are prepared and know your material. Also, take some time to visualise something you already love to do with ease – this could be cooking your favourite dish, serving it up to family or friends and explaining how you created such a delight. Now transfer the feelings you are experiencing and see yourself presenting – believe the tools are within you! If you are already confident in other areas of your life, transfer those tools and boost your confidence in public speaking!
2. Calm Down
Practise ‘ratio breathing’ – if you aren't familiar with this powerful tool, make sure you become an expert now! Basically, watch your breath and let it travel all the way down to the base of your spine, relax the belly and let the diaphragm move into it. On the out breath, breathe all the way out of the top of the head, constantly maintaining your focus on it. Think of it like a barometer – breathe in for 2 seconds and out for 4 seconds. You can change the ratio to whatever works for you. When we feel anxious, this is a guaranteed tool to calm the body, because it switches the parasympathetic nervous system on and switches the ‘fight or flight’ reaction off. So practise it and use it as needed on the day!
3. Take Control
Notice the area around you, this is yours so own it and fill it. Research by Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy has shown that when we adopt the ‘power pose’, it is manipulating our own body language so that we feel more poised and confident. Testosterone increases and cortisol decreases, so our bodies really can trick our minds into believing that we are confident! Practise this at home in front of the mirror, so you can get comfortable with your new style. Also, notice any thoughts and keep the ‘feel good’ messages flowing such as ‘I can do this.’ This is your moment!
If you feel really uncomfortable bringing your ideas to the table, you may also feel uninspired and fearful when it comes to writing content. NLP, is a therapy and coaching approach that analyses the skills of exceptional people. The below are derived suggestions which may help you enhance your communication style.
4. Be Clear
Do you break into a sweat when thinking about giving a lengthy presentation? Neuroscientists say that the human mind can only absorb anywhere from three to seven points, in short term memory. The inspirational visionary Steve Jobs' must have known this. His product descriptions were all short, to the point and described in one sentence. He also sometimes used the rule of three. "Thinner, faster, lighter" and "The world's thinnest notebook" are some of the most memorable and best ever definitions. Think of being: concise, clear and compact (more C's!) when writing your content. You will feel more positive in your approach, more comfortable about delivery and you will also have more impact, which will in turn make you feel better. You are going to get good at this!
5. Add Creativity
Who doesn't love a good story? The best advertisers are fully aware of this and use narratives all of the time to connect us emotionally to the brands they represent. Top brands like Nike don't even mention their products in most ads! Instead, we the consumer are the star of the story, as they help us to achieve our dreams of doing better. Stories have power, so get creative in your communication and spin a good tale. Concretely, this means finding real life experiences that you can use to illustrate your points. If you feel you lack creativity, why not try meditation! Research shows that mindfulness promotes divergent thinking.
Finally, remember that you are giving it your best shot and bear in mind that your realistic aim is to give a 'good enough' presentation, not to 'raise the house'. Although with practise, you very well may beat the jitters of public speaking or giving a presentation real fast!