Public speaking – it’s possibly one of the top fears for many people in the workplace, but it’s also something that many of us have to face head-on in order to progress professionally, win clients, inspire customers and stakeholders – and ultimately to stimulate business growth.
However, despite my eloquent opening gambit, please do not be fooled – this is not a comprehensive, motivational or inspirational guide on how to overcome your fears and become the number one greatest public-speaker of all time. This is merely an incoherent musing on how to not embarrass yourself should you find that you have to impart knowledge onto other human beings in the form of a presentation.
Having recently been asked to give a presentation focusing on the design, digital and straetgic work that goes into the successful brand building that we do here at Pistachio (at a fairly large event) it struck me that one of my biggest problems was overthinking the whole thing prior to the event. With this in mind, I’ve generously noted down five top tips that will hopefully help you all to feel a little bit more comfortable the next time you take to the stage…
Wear black – not only does it look smart and professional, it’s also slimming and sweat-disguising.
*Plus, if it all goes terribly wrong, at least you can make a ninja-like escape from the nearest exit relatively undetected.
Speak slowly and clearly – however slowly you think you’re speaking, half it again – trust me, you are always speaking a lot faster than you think you are. By ensuring that you’re hitting the right pace it will enable your avid listeners to actually hear all of the valuable things you have to say.
*Most importantly, if coupled with dramatic pregnant pauses, it’s actually a great way of filling out the lengthy slot you’ve been given if you’ve ‘accidently’ only prepared material for halve of it.
Bring every adaptor/charger you can find – this is doubly important if including video or sound in your presentation, because, despite your absolute best efforts, there is always a technical glitch. But by making sure you’ve covered every conceivable malfunction that both Apple and Microsoft could possibly hit you with by doing a mass Amazon order, you should be fine and ready to rock and roll.
*If all else fails you should opt to express any visual facts and figures via the medium of interruptive dance instead – I guarantee that this will increase your audience engagement ten-fold.
Get in the ‘zone’ before your presentation – take some time out in a quiet spot to practise your key points and to ultimately remind yourself that you do actually know what you are talking about – if you didn’t then you wouldn’t be here in the first place, so be kind to yourself and believe that you can deliver.
*For the more confident of those amongst us, I strongly suggest listening to some gangster rap just before you take to the stage so that you feel like a real MVP.
Be firm with question time – if you do open up the floor to questions at the end of your presentation, then make sure that you are strict with the time you give to this segment. Nothing will put a downer on a superbly delivered presentation quicker than 20 minutes spent answering an irrelevant or awkward question that the rest of the audience aren’t interested in listening to. You want to end on a high – so keep answers short, polite and to the point, then invite guests to approach you afterwards to discuss anything in more detail.
*Or, if you prefer, tell audience members to stay in their lane and to not encroach upon your time in the limelight, you’ve earnt this spot and it’s your time to shine – and don’t you forget it!
**it’s probably best if you don’t actually do this one.
If, like me, the biggest reason that you worry about public speaking is what other people will think of you, then remember – as long as you are prepared, know your topic and are comfortable with the tools you’ve chosen to communicate with – then you’ll most likely smash it, so smile and try and enjoy it!