Presentation Anxiety and How to Overcome It
Hannah Bunch, Spirit Box
You hear the words “presentation” and immediately your heart starts to race. We’ve all been there, right? Most of us need a bit more training in calming those fears when presenting to a room of people. You are not alone in this fear and we are here to help ease the presentation anxiety.
Tell a Story & Engage People Emotionally
Know your audience and tell them a story that will engage them. Don’t create a text-rich, picture-poor presentation. Did you know people cannot read and listen at the same time? Too much text may distract them from what you are saying. Great visuals inspire and engage people emotionally, and it keeps their attention on what you are saying.
Express One Idea in Each Slide
It is so easy to try to fit as much information as you can into one presentation. Keep your presentation concise and easy to follow along with you as you present. Overloading it with a ton of bullet points may get the information in your presentation, but you risk losing your audience along the way. Figure out the most important information that your audience needs to know and outline it by slide.
Make a Great First Impression
The first 2-3 minutes of your presentation are the most important. Summarize your presentation at the start so your audience knows what to expect during your presentation and explain your ‘why’ at the start. If you are unclear on what the purpose of your presentation is, you may lose the audience at the start. An unclear message may cause your audience to stop listening to what you are saying and lose their focus trying to figure out what your presentation is really about. Make it as easy as possible for them to stay focused during the presentation.
Know Your Materials and Content Better than Anyone
Probably the most important tip… practice. The more you practice for your presentation, the more prepared you will feel. Do not memorize your presentation- know it. Be prepared for the worst-case scenario like the projector is not working and you’ve lost your notes. What now? Be ready to give your presentation without reading word for word from your notes or PowerPoint.
Memorizing your presentation loses that authentic connection you want to achieve with your audience.
Don’t come unprepared. Know your material and try to anticipate the kinds of questions your audience might have and be prepared with answers.
Follow the Presentation Guidelines
Many presentations come with guidelines on what to present on and how your presentation should be prepared. Do NOT ignore these guidelines. Whether this is a school presentation, a work presentation, or a community presentation, these guidelines were written for a reason and should be followed. For example, if the guidelines say to present between 10-15 minutes, do your very best to stay in this window of time. Going over this time could mess up the schedule or just annoy those you are presenting to. Following the guidelines on how your presentation is prepared is crucial to be respectful of those who invited you to present and to the audience.
We see you actively trying to get better, which is a great first step. Want to take it a step further? Download this free resource outlining even more presentation tips. It goes in-depth on what to wear and how to prepare for your next presentation.