Do you have any tips for making business presentations? I’ve been asked to give my first big one and I’m nervous!
Most people have experienced the anxiety, trepidation and fear that often precede public speaking, especially if it the presentation is to a large or influential group. The good news is that experience definitely helps and you will become more comfortable and self-confident with every presentation that you design and deliver.
It helps to remember that being nervous before speaking or presenting is perfectly natural. Even the most seasoned professional can have the jitters before delivering a large presentation. The key word here is preparation, and the more speaking experience you gain the more you will understand its importance. If anything, you want to over prepare and over practice. Knowing your material inside and out will help ease any anxiety that you feel, and will help you deliver a more polished presentation.
It’s also important to anticipate any controversial points or difficult questions that you may encounter while you are behind the podium, and plan your responses accordingly. The fear of the unknown is at the root of most speaking anxiety, so thinking through potential scenarios can be very helpful.
In addition to being familiar with your material, become familiar with your audience. Find out who will be in the room, what levels in the organization are represented, and why your presentation might impact them. It’s important to know your audience so that you can connect with them through your presentation. By researching your audience in advance, you can incorporate stories, facts, or examples that will resonate with them and connect to the points you wish to make.
I’d also advise you to keep your presentation as concise as possible. No one enjoys sitting through unnecessarily long, drawn out speeches. Think about the main points that you want your audience to remember, and then hit those points as succinctly and directly as possible. Have a handout that includes more detailed information for those who are interested.
Practice your presentation before a trusted colleague or advisor; preferably someone who will understand the material sufficiently to critique both the content and your overall delivery. Then, practice repeatedly in front of the best presentation tool of all – the mirror.
Getting your first business presentation under your belt is an important career milestone. I wish you the best of luck!