I’m sitting here, in the middle of the room along with the rest of this disappointed audience, and I can’t read a single thing on the presenter’s PowerPoint slides. Someone next to me whispers: “How big is that font, anyways? Size 6?” “It doesn’t matter,” I reply. “He’s just reading his slides word for word.”
Bill told me that the thought of presenting put razor blades in his stomach and rubber bands around his chest. It was getting harder and harder to breath. I said, “Bill, your anxiety is normal, but you can actually desensitize yourself to it by just doing more and more presentations.” “How can I desensitize myself to public speaking,” he said, “when I’m too nervous to even get started?”
One of the most critical success factors when presenting to an audience is good eye contact. That’s why handheld clickers are so important – you can advance your slides without ever breaking that all-important audience connection. So what do you do if you lost your little remote?
It is far too easy to slip into a monotonous speaking tone when conducting meetings or speaking to an audience. Perhaps you do this in an attempt to control your nerves, or to appear more serious and in control of your material, but you’re not a boring person, so don’t speak like one.
There are few communication techniques as effective and powerful as analogies, similes and metaphors. This goes double for oral communication, since the receiver does not have the freedom to pause you mid-speech and reflect on what you’re saying.
I’m happy that I get anxious before delivering a big presentation. It means that I’m excited about what I’m about to do. But I don’t like feeling anxious. Too much anxiety can be crippling. I like to use what I call “the thermometer visualization technique” to help manage this kind of anxiety when speaking in public.
Great oral presentations often follows the same structure as great written communication. As every essay-writing high school student knows, you lead with an introduction, elaborate your main points in the body, and summarize your argument in the conclusion. A well-developed oral presentation adheres to the same structure.
Just like a newborn baby whose eyes meet yours for the first time, your audience is looking for that same window into your soul. Don’t deny it to them – they are thirsty for information and they are going to be looking at you for access to it! Think of your eyes as a conduit, like a tractor beam, that can lock onto a person and draw her into your world, enveloping her in your message.
David FolkersonHow to make better eye contact during presentations
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