Active Production And Design Blog

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Presentation and Public Speaking Preparedness

- Contributed by Brad Gibson, Director of Marketing and Business Development

Are you the kind of person who NEVER wants to speak in public? Does the idea of addressing a crowd make you cringe? Well, you're certainly not alone. Some people seem to be naturally gifted with a talent to speak in front of crowds... about anything! But some of us need a little help. Know that if you are in the populace of folks that want nothing to do with a podium and mic, it may take a bit more preparation and practice. Here are some tips to help your presentation prowess:

Don't wait until the last minute to produce and edit your material.

If you have an aversion to public speaking, preparation is KEY. Start producing your content as soon as possible and become comfortable with it. Hopefully you are speaking about something you are knowledgeable about and as you build your deck of talking points and construct your PowerPoint (or Keynote, etc), become familiar with the flow and order of your presentation. It's not so far removed from acting, where there is a script and lines that you need to memorize. Luckily you are likely to have a visual reference to glance at, whether that be a confidence monitor, printed script, or simply turning to a screen beside or behind you. These will keep you on task, but don't let them become a crutch, familiarity with your content is imperative to keep the audience engaged. 

Have a conversation. Keep it practical.

You know what you're talking about. You are the expert and have been asked to speak for a reason. Have a conversation with the audience. While it can seem like a one-sided conversation when you look out onto a sea of faces, they are conversing with you via their body language and energy. Use this to your advantage and engage them with your conversation. Your passion for the topic at hand will be contagious. Many people, when nervous, will start their presentation with "I'm not great a public speaking, but I'm going to try." This is not the best beginning to your conversation because now you've set the audience up to see where you are faltering instead of listening to the content of your message. Take charge of the conversation, which in itself can take practice. 

Rehearse until you are comfortable with your content.

There can be a few options and steps to rehearsing your presentation. Start in a mirror to yourself. And don't feel silly. There's a great phrase that says "If you think you look silly, you probably do." And the meaning of this phrase isn't to insult you, but to say that if that's the energy you're projecting, then others can see it. When you practice your delivery in front of a mirror, take control, and convince yourself. When you feel comfortable you can ask another party to listen to your presentation. You may not have the time to go through your entire presentation, and if that's the case, pick a section to go through and ask the trustworthy party if you seemed knowledgeable and confident. Once you've performed these tasks be sure to give yourself adequate time at the rehearsal of the event to work with the audiovisual team to rehearse in the space and give honest feedback to your AV team if there is any part of the audiovisual experience that you would like to improve. This may not always be possible to correct to make it perfect for you, but it never hurts to ask. Now you should be ready to WOW the audience with your command of the stage!

Just like any skill set, public speaking is easier for some than others, and some people need more preparation and rehearsal time and that is OK. At the end, if you gave it your best and had an engaging conversation with your audience you did your job. And not every presentation will be perfect, but they will ALL BE LEARNING EXPERIENCES. If you falter in one that doesn't mean you never do it again, you evaluate your performance, you can even take notes, so that when you are given the opportunity again, you can reference where you could improve. Before long, you'll be surprised at how far you grow as a public speaker. Keep a positive attitude and don't give up! 

Practicing with all the elements sets you up for success!
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Monday, 09 December 2019