Friday, May 20 2022

Whether you’re the founder of a small company or the CEO of a large establishment, leading the conversation at a weekly department meeting or hosting a panel discussion at the annual industry conference everyone is talking about, can be intimidating for some.

To overcome the fear of presenting, keep participating and practicing at low-stakes events at every opportunity that comes your way. By doing so, you will become a qualified, sought-after and successful thought leader in no time.

Below, 15 Fast Company board members share their best techniques for helping leaders reduce signs of nervousness and deliver effectively in virtual (or on-site) discussions.

1. Get rid of your note cards.

Do not use note cards. Instead, study until you know the topic back and forth so that when you speak to the audience, you feel like you’re talking excitedly about the topic to your friend. Be proud of what you say to your friend because you know you will be convincing. – Alice Hayden, H2 IT Solutions

2. INTEGRATE REAL STORIES.

Include some stories, real-life examples, and fun facts to make it a more interactive experience. Practice your content in front of your family or friends to build your confidence and improve your broadcast. I always appreciate presentations with more visuals, bullet points, or polls for easy reference and higher engagement. Remember that you are the small and medium business expert helping others. So be confident and have fun! – Gayatri Keskar, Material ConneXion

3. KEEP PRACTICE.

It sounds simple, but practice makes perfect! Go through your documents and talk about the week before your event. Then practice in front of your spouse or friend. Remember, no one knows the materials better than you, and if you get it wrong, it’s unlikely anyone but you will. Finally, think about likely objections or questions and make sure you have your answers prepared. –Blake DeCola, Brado

4. SUCCESSFUL IMAGE.

Try closing your eyes and imagine yourself giving a successful presentation. Then focus on visualizing that it will go well and manifest as a successful outcome. Practice some deep breathing techniques to calm your nervous system. – Kathy Leake, Crux Intelligence

5. DON’T BE AFRAID TO GET IN THE WAY.

Even professional speakers make mistakes. Adopt it with humor. Make sure you know the topic you are going to talk about. If you go off track, you still retain your credibility. If you can, use the speaker notes feature on most presentation programs in a format that makes you feel comfortable so you can get back on track if you lose your train of thought. – Hannah Fryer, Brambling & Co., LLC

6. DON’T WORRY ABOUT THE AUDIENCE.

Remember that the audience is on your side. They are also rooted for you and your presentation. See them as potential allies rather than judges. – David Jaber, Positive Climate Council

7. TEACH WHAT YOU KNOW.

You can overcome the nervousness of public speaking by talking about the things that matter most to you. If your subject isn’t something you like, you can always find an angle that’s important to you. When you are passionate about your subject, it shows in your delivery and people will be more engaged. You’ll also be less likely to be nervous when speaking in public, as you’ll focus on the message itself. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

8. CREATE AN OUTLINE.

Having a general idea of ​​what you are going to say can help you stay focused and become a more confident and comfortable public speaker. – Kristin Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC

9. TRY AN AUDIO ONLY EVENT.

If you’re not comfortable speaking publicly in person or on video, start with an audio-only event. Join a Twitter Space or Clubhouse discussion around a topic you think you’re an expert on. Doing multiple sessions allows you to practice in front of strangers you can’t see, without the uncomfortable visual distraction. You will find your rhythm and even meet new people to network or learn from. –Bill Nottingham, Nottingham Unlimited Ventures, LLC

10. SIGN UP FOR STAND-UP COMEDY.

Kid you not, I once signed up for a stand-up comedy class. The final assignment was to deliver a stand-up routine on stage at a local club. Frankly, it was one of the hardest speeches I’ve ever had, even though the stakes were low because it was just for fun. Still, believe me, if you do this, it will help you gain confidence and put your future speeches into perspective! –Camille Preston, AIM Leadership, LLC

11. FOCUS ON GRATITUDE.

Master your content and manage your stress. Accept speaking opportunities that cover topics you know very well or that allow you to share a personal story with key lessons learned. Before the event, manage your stress by saying: I’m excited (instead of: I’m nervous) about your speech, and take five minutes to think only thoughts of gratitude for a positive state of mind. Gratitude will destroy fear. – Andreea Vanacker, SPARKX5

12. CHOOSE A PERSONAL TOPIC.

Find a topic you’re passionate about, it doesn’t have to be about work, it could be top Pokémon Go tips or cooking unexpected taco combinations. Then explore the best ways for you to educate others on the subject. For example, speaking on a pre-recorded podcast, webinar, or YouTube channel might be helpful. Build confidence by talking about what you love and applying it to all aspects of work and life. – Val Vacante, Merkle, a toothy company

13. DETERMINE YOUR OWN STYLE.

Recognize that this is a learned skill and that you are not alone in your nervousness. After doing this many times, I’ve learned that everyone who does it well has their own style of preparation and their own plan that evolved from practice and practice. Consolidate your style and prepare and rehearse the process that will help you feel more confident and deliver a better presentation. Don’t turn down an opportunity. – Paola Doebel, Ensono

14. BREATHE.

Take your time to prepare and practice a lot. You may need to learn this presentation by heart, it’s okay as long as it gives you more confidence. Another thing to focus on is your breathing. A simple technique is to inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of eight. A few rounds of this are sure to calm your parasympathetic nervous system. It’s human biology. –Solomon Timothy, OneIMS

15. VIDEO RECORD.

Practice, practice, practice, there is no substitute. Film yourself, be ready to watch and be self-critical. Watch presentations from people whose style you admire and find out what you love about what they do. Identify specific behaviors that work and start adopting them. For example, eye contact, body language, use of visuals, the way they dress, and how they connect with the audience. – Amy Radin, Pragmatic Innovation Partners LLC


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