Article Summary:Techniques for preparing to make effective presentations.
Novice and expert presenters alike have had the experience of feeling a little (or may be a lot) nervous before giving a talk. In working with hundreds of people to help them improve their presentation skills, one consistent theme has emerged: once people get started, assuming things go relatively well, they begin to relax, become more natural, less self conscious, and therefore more effective.
Since the opening of any presentation is critical to the message and the presenter's credibility, and since this is often when presenters are most nervous and cautious, it makes sense to have strategies to make that opening the best it can be.
I call the strategy "Super Preparation".
How to Do It
Here are the steps to Super Preparation:
1. Design a dynamite opening.
This article isn't focused on how to build the best possible opening, but that is where you need to start! Make sure your opening is clear, focused, attention getting and full of audience benefits. You want the people listening to become truly interested in what you have to say. When you have a great opening planned, your excitement and confidence will rise, already making you less apprehensive.
2. Practice the opening.
You need to "own" the great opening you have developed. Practice the first 3-5 minutes of your talk thinking about everything: the words, vocal inflection, gestures, movements, pace and more. Know the flow of your words, find the best places to pause for emphasis. Your goal is to have the first few minutes so well prepared in your mind and heart that your nerves and apprehensions about getting started are greatly reduced. You won't reach that goal without practice.
3. Visualize success!
Spend some time thinking about how successful the opening will be. How engaged and interested your audience will be. How confident and relaxed you will be. Visualizing those things are a big step towards making them happen.
I know, I already told you to practice. These rehearsals are the final mental run-throughs that incorporate both the practice and the visualization. These rehearsals might be in your car, the shower, as you lay in bed, whenever!
5. End with a "make".
When shooting baskets after practice my basketball coach always said, "Don't leave the court on a miss. Always finish with the result you want." That is my advice to you on your mental rehearsals. Always finish with a rehearsal where the opening went great! This will solidify the result you want in your brain and add to your growing confidence and excitement.
6. Don't memorize!
All this talk about practice and rehearsal may lead you to think, "I just need to memorize my opening." Nothing could be more wrong. When we memorize, we focus on the words. If we mess up the words we've lost it! Super Preparation is about preparing for a super result - and super results in presentations are always focused on the audience, not ourselves. Forget the memorization. Remember the audience. Focus on the message, your approach and your desired outcome.
The results of utilizing Super Preparation include:
- Greater confidence
- Less apprehension or nerves at the start of your talk
- A much more credible first impression of you, your skills, and message by the audience
- An opening that has great impact
Aren't those reasons enough to try it?
Will take care of itself. You will have set yourself up to succeed with greater confidence and energy, which allows you to build on the great opening, rather than trying to recover from a poor one.
Try the Super Preparation approach to your next presentation and prepare to persuade with greater effectiveness than you ever have before!
Kevin Eikenberry is an expert in converting organizational, team and individual potential into desired results, and the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. He is the two-time best selling author of "Vantagepoints On Learning And Life" and "Remarkable Leadership: Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time." Kevin has spent the last 15 years helping organizations all across North America reach their potential. His specialties include: teams and teamwork, creativity, developing organizational and individual potential, facilitation, training trainers, presentation skills, consulting and the consulting process and more. He offers monthly tele-seminars through a program called the Remarkable Leadership Learning System. Kevin can be reached at (317) 387-1424 or 888.LEARNER and through his website, www.kevineikenberry.com.