Thursday, 14 June 2012

6 ways to converting Nervousness into Confidence in presentations

Maria Clews and Hugh Alford- coaches for Effective Business Presentations

You may think that you cannot speak publicly because of nervousness but ALL GOOD SPEAKERS ARE NERVOUS. 

There will be a touch in the 'scream' in all speakers with nerves

Mari Clews and I have just finished an effective presentations programme for one of the major high street banks but for their Corporate business side. (No names but the bank was founded in 1727 in Edinburgh !)

Maria ran a programme in Manchester and I ran one in City of London. Both of us were impressed by the courage and application of the delegates.

Presentation courses can be stressful for the folk who attend .

Initially they can be quite nervous and apprehensive.

So we draw  a scale at the start of the course on flip chart and ask the delegates to gauge their level of confidence and comfort at the start of the programme and mark it on the scale.

Scale of Comfort and Confidence

By the end of our course delegates have shifted more to the right hand of the scale. Of course Maria and I just suggest some tips and techniques along the way - but it is the delegates who make those techniques work for them.

The psot course feedback we got included:- 

 "Very well delivered.. Enjoyed the variety of styles ie visual, debates stories, analogies etc"
"Excellent - really good quality and very interesting and relevant"

"Very useful feedback on presentations"

"Hugh was great – Clearly knew his topic and shared his knowledge"
"Really enjoyed the two days + found it useful and relevant"

"The two days really worked"
"My confidence has really improved in such a short period of time with easy to pick up tips"
These comments are great for both Maria and I, yet we know  if you stop being nervous completely you don’t care about your audience any more –and  it’s time to give up! 

Nervous tension is not good but nervous excitement is important. 
The key is to control those nerves * nervous tension) and make them work for you (nervous excitement). 

Traffic light -good advice from actors
- Detail of the poster campaign form RADA
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art -
Campaign on the London Underground ( The 'Tube')
Here are five techniques which Maria and I know can help you just as they did for the groups we worked with this week.

   1. Tension should be released first in your lungs:

  Replace short panicky breathing with slow, deep breathing - do this through your nose to prevent your throat drying out prior to speaking.

This can be done quite unobtrusively as you are being introduced.

      2. When the introductions are over:

   Slow yourself down a bit if you are inclined to rush in clumsily

     a. take your position
   b. clear the lectern and desk if necessary,
   c. arrange your confidence cards/ notes and visual aids
d. generally make yourself comfortable with your space before looking at the audience.

When you're ready to take command, relax your shoulders and feel the tension drop off them - your whole body will feel the benefit of this simple exercise and if your body feels relaxed, then you will too.

Smile ( particualrly with your eyes)  at the audience generally, or at individuals you have met beforehand.

     If you convey some degree of warmth for them, they are more than likely to return the compliment.

       3. When you have their full attention, and only then, you may commence your presentation:

Some individuals find the sound of their own projected voice quite unsettling initially and you should be prepared for this phenomena. It is only off-putting if unexpected.

Again you may encounter a build up of nerves at this point so:

4. Know exactly how you intend to start.

Like a swan look serene above the waterline

5. Commence with your presentation with

a. “glide in introduction/greeting ,” good morning/ afternoon/ evening ladies and gentlemen,
b. introduce yourself,
c. follow up with an attention “Grabber” and the “Billboard” and get quickly into the meat of your presentation.

For ideas on openers to presentations see this link.

6. Have an early visual built into your presentation so that your audience take their eyes off you for a few moments to let you collect yourself.

If you are using PowerPoint slides you can project a slide. 

 If using a flichart you can draw something and attention moves form you to the flipchart. 

 If you are going to guide them throuh a page numbered handout the same principle helps take the spot liht off you for few seconds.

Now your nerves are under control enjoy your presentation.

Good Luck from Maria and Hugh ( me)

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