Presentation Tips for Anxious People Who Hate Public Speaking

One of the perks of working at SkillPath is getting to know the men and women who present our seminars. They can all speak off the top of their heads about their topic area specialties, but there are some that are truly magical when it comes to public speaking. Best of all, they all have terrific communication and presentation survival tips for those of us who get the flop sweats when asked to speak to more than one or two people. You can be the most introverted and shy wallflower in the world but still make a presentation with confidence if you utilize these tips.

I know you’ve probably heard that old nugget about research showing that people are more afraid of public speaking than they are of dying. If this describes you, then take heart. You can get better. And while we all don’t have the personality make-up to be a politician or a rock-star, by following these simple steps you can make sure your presentations are interesting and memorable.

Here are five tips on getting through a public speaking event with less stress:

  1. Get your audience to do something!

    Just reciting information without substance to your audience isn’t very likely to make an impression. In fact, it will most likely put them asleep. Remember– you are giving your presentation for a reason. Always keep in mind the reaction you want these people to take after your speech, and give them direct actionable steps to accomplish it. If your presentation is on creating small businesses, then give your audience the specific steps they need to create their own.

  2. Be provocative

    Karl Popper wrote in his autobiography, “My custom, whenever I am invited to speak in some place, of trying to develop some consequences of my views which I expect to be unacceptable to the particular audience. For I believe that there is only one excuse for a lecture: to challenge. It is the only way in which speech can be better than print.”

    You must challenge your audience. You must challenge their ideas, their methods, and most importantly their expectations for your presentation.

  3. Imagine the friendliest audience

    In order to feel more comfortable on stage, people used to imagine their audience in nothing but their underwear. If this works for you, fine. But another better method is to imagine that your audience is already on your side. How differently would you prepare and act if you knew your audience was made up of the most friendly and supportive people on Earth? Now write your speech with that in mind. It works.

  4. Get to the point

    In Hollywood, films are broken down into one sentence ‘loglines’ that perfectly and succinctly tell you what the movie is about. You need to do the same with your presentation. Boil everything down to one overarching sentence that captures exactly what your point is. This sense of purpose and direction will help you and your audience focus on the message.

  5. Cut out the soft meaningless words

    “I’d just like to,” “sort of,” or “kind of” These kind of words and phrases are speech killers. They may be fine in everyday conversation but they will rob your speech of all power and timing. Try recording yourself and seeing if you are peppering your speech with useless phrases and limp words.

Giving a presentation does not have to be a fate worse than death. With these simple steps, even the most nervous and tongue-tied among us can get through any talk with our dignity and reputations not only intact, but strengthened.

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