There are those individuals—a handful, perhaps—who stood in front of the fifth grade classroom and delivered that book report effortlessly, with a permanent smile on their face and not an ounce of perspiration under their arm. Then there are the rest of us: the panicky, sweaty, sinking ship variety. Despite our extensive preparation, we just don’t feel 100% comfortable in front of a crowd.
Polls suggest that American adults are more scared of public speaking than anything. (Yes, even death.) And while you might vow to “never speak in front of a crowd again!”… chances are you will. Whether it’s a business presentation in front of colleagues or a toast at your daughter’s wedding, we all end up at the podium eventually.
Psychologists tell us the first rule of overcoming stage fright is to shift our perspective. So we’re going to do just that. We’re going to focus on some solid marketing tips that you can incorporate into any presentation, whether it’s a TED talk attended by 1,200 strangers… or a dreaded fifth grade book report.
Stay in Control
The one thing you’d love to control is the one thing you can never control: how the audience feels about you. Just ask a comedian. Whether you win over the room or lose them entirely is (for the most part) out of your hands. Instead, focus on what you can control: your preparation, your slides, your handouts, your sleep, your protein-rich breakfast, your wardrobe, your staging—and all of the tips below. These are the tools available to you.
Short & Sweet
Say it in as few words as it can possibly be said. Like this paragraph.
Story, Story, Story
Presentations must contain all of the same elements as a well-crafted story. Introduce the challenge—one with high stakes that your audience can identify with. Clearly lay out the steps you would take to solve that problem. Incorporate unique, high-quality images that support your story. And once you’ve slayed the dragon, tell them what the future holds. Make it dramatic, engaging, and worth remembering.
Keep the Theatrics to a Minimum
While story is critical, props and set dressing are not. If a certain prop aids in and clarifies your message, then use it. Otherwise, simplicity of storytelling and clean delivery are key. You’re not expected to perform any magic tricks as part of your presentation. Unless you’re a magician. In which case, carry on.
A Little Personality Goes a Long Way
Like it or not, in this presentation, you are the main character. You may not be the message, but you’re certainly the messenger, and the audience needs to relate to you. So don’t be afraid to infuse some personality and charisma into your delivery. In particular, let the audience know how the challenge you’re examining impacts you, too.
End with Clarity
As you wrap up, it’s vital to leave your audience with clear messages and clear actions: What is the big takeaway? How should they implement what you’ve presented? Should they contact you with questions? How?
Whether you’re presenting the profits from Q3 or your entire life’s work, you’ve got to “sell the vision.” Will the audience buy it? That’s not in your control. Focus on story, personality, and clarity, and leave the rest on the stage.
Article originally published in Community News.
About Brand Poets
Founded by Tana M. Llinas, Brand Poets is a collective of strategists, visual storytellers, and digital artisans crafting smart, poignant campaigns that command attention. www.brandpoets.com