If you’re like many people, the thought of speaking in front of a group of people is like bamboo under your nails. Truth be told, the audience wants to see you succeed and doesn’t want to see a crash-and-burn on the stage. The audience is rooting for you.
Next time you have to take to the podium, keep the following in mind:
- Let your passion flow – The audience wants to not only hear about what you have to say, they also want to see your passion and excitement about your topic. Allowing yourself to get passionate about your presentation will help get your mind off of the audience and more on to the topic you’re presenting. You’ve got something important to say, so get up there and say it with passion.
- Be the most prepared person in the room – Knowing your content backward and forward can only help your confidence. The more unsure you are about your material, the greater likelihood of you panicking during your presentation. Strive to be the most knowledgeable person in the room on your topic.
- Have a couple of friendly faces in the audience – If you can, ask a couple of friends or colleagues to be in the audience and ask them to sit where you can easily spot them in different areas of the room. As you’re presenting, alternate looking at them. It will look like you’re panning the audience, but what you’re doing is just focusing on one face, then the other, and so on.
- Take a few cleansing breaths – Just before you take the stage, right when the butterflies are swarming like bees, take a couple of slow and deep breaths. With each exhale, imagine the butterflies being expelled. You probably won’t get them all out, but the slow deep breaths will help to calm you down and save you from starting off your presentation like a racehorse leaving the gates.
- Canvass the room and get used to the feel, lighting, podium, and layout – Before your presentation, go in the room and stand on the stage or wherever you’ll be presenting. Get a feel for where you’ll stand, how you’ll operate any equipment, where you’ll walk. Think about where you’ll want your friendly faces to sit to where you can easily spot them.
- Try to chat with some of the audience before presenting – As people are coming in the room, do some light chatting with audience members. If you find someone that is particularly friendly, use them as one of your friendly faces that you focus on during your presentation.
- Accept that butterflies happen to even the most experienced of presenters – As with Sir Laurence Olivier, butterflies are just going to happen. Expect that they’re going to come and incorporate the butterflies into your presentation preparation.