Public speaking and the ability to present effectively in front of a group of people is a craft. I hesitate to call it a skill because skills seem more finite while a craft can always be refined. https://crm-a.org
Some might think that anyone can get up in front of a room full of people and present. I would counter that with, can anyone simply act, sing, or play an instrument? Like those other forms of expression, if you want to get really good, if you want to have confidence instead of being nervous, then you need to practice.
So many people are terrified of public speaking. This article is not about why people are so frightened to speak. The point of this article is to argue that public speaking and presenting do not need to be scary. If you take advantage of the opportunities to present, then you will certainly get better. People will notice if you present well and it’s also a great weapon to have in your professional arsenal.
Use the following steps below as a rough starting point but never underestimate the importance of practicing as much as you can.
1. Keep Your Cool
Whether you’re speaking to 10 people or 300 people, there will almost always be a disruption or a distraction. A group of people laughing in the back, a co-worker who cannot stop asking questions, an obnoxiously loud sneeze, a phone ringing, etc.
Stay calm and never apologize for having to stop, even for a moment.
If you’re cool, everyone else will be cool.
You might find that the work-horse projector that your company has had since you started working there decides to call it a career when you get to slide 3.
This isn’t a disaster.
All this means is that now your audience really needs to pay close attention to what you have to say, which is a great thing! Additionally, it won’t matter whether your slide deck is being projected behind you because you knew to…
“I’ll just wing it.”
“I’ll figure it out when I get up there.”
While almost anyone can get up and read off of a projected slide, that does not mean it is a good presentation. You may get through all of the material but the audience will know that you did not prepare. There is a noticeable difference between a polished, rehearsed presentation and one that is done “off the cuff”.
Your audience is giving you their attention whether they have to be there or want to be there. Show them the respect of a prepared presentation.
Rehearse your presentation 5-7 times and use a timer to see how long it takes you (it’s usually longer than you think). Rehearse standing up with your laptop so you can coordinate advancing the slides in line with your talking points.
2a. Really know the material, do not memorize
You will get interrupted. If the material becomes ingrained, then you can pick up from wherever you left off without any issues. If there are specific figures that you need to communicate, write them down on an index card. Give yourself a break. Don’t stress over a data point or two.