This is the second in a two-part blog about presentation design and delivery. Click here to read last week’s installment.
Part II: Preparing Your Delivery.
You’ve got your deck. You’ve got your notes. Now it’s time to focus on your delivery.
Approximately 93% of the message you deliver is nonverbal.¹ That means the content is just 7% of what you’re communicating. The rest includes your oral tactics/tonality, pacing, facial expressions, body language, eye contact, and so on. You know what that means then: if your non-verbal communication is lacking, the best content will only get you so far. Unfortunately, the delivery just so happens to be the part that tends to stress folks out the most. Creating the presentation or writing the speech is usually not the big issue. Delivering it is. Much of presentation fear is about the unknown. Will I mess up? Will I not know an answer? Will they not like me? Will they laugh at me? Will I simply not be good? All these questions can set your nerves into overdrive and derail your presentation, but only if you let them. So, what can you do?
Channel the Nervous Energy
First, don’t expect nerves to completely go away. While you will (and you will) get more comfortable as you present more often, most people continue to have some nerves before a presentation. The good news is that you can channel those nerves to improve your delivery. That’s right: the goal isn’t necessarily to squash your nerves, but to use them to your benefit. Nervous energy can translate into positive energy. And you need positive energy to deliver effectively. If you’re flat, you probably sound bored by your own content. Guess who else will probably be bored? Yep. The audience. If you portray interest and excitement, that, instead, is likely to transfer to them.
Also, getting in some cardio before you deliver can help drain some excess anxiety. Something as simple as running up the stairs before your presentation can help decrease angst while increasing positive energy.
Practice: Get to Know Your Content
Simply rehearsing the presentation in your head isn’t enough; that won’t help you check and adjust your speed (when we’re nervous, we tend to go too fast) nor alert you to where you lose track or stumble over words (looking at you, Benedict Cumberbatch, trying to say “penguin”). Instead, begin by rehearsing aloud alone to get used to how ideas sound and flow. Move on to a small audience. Sure, this might feel strange, but it’ll put you in touch with feeling stress and give you the opportunity to practice channeling it.
Consider recording yourself. This is especially effective if you’re going to deliver the presentation over video. You can ensure things are technically the way you want them: camera angle, lighting, appropriate background, quality mic (invest in a mic; don’t rely on your built-in microphone). (And of course, you need to be on camera if you’re delivering virtually.)
Practice: Evaluate Yourself
Part of rehearsing is analyzing your content and delivery and making updates where necessary.
Look, you may never enjoy presenting; however, following these ideas and tips can give you a tested roadmap to follow and build your confidence and decrease your stress. Additionally, solid presentation skills are so sought after, you easily set yourself apart from your peers as you begin to master them.
Click here for our related article: Spotlight: Applied Presentation Skills
¹ Pease, A. & Pease, B. (2006, September 24). The definitive book of body language. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/24/books/chapters/0924-1st-peas.html
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