Would it surprise you to discover that most people do not go about preparing a presentation expecting a successful outcome? In fact, the vast majority focus on their content (what they’ll deliver) rather than on what they want the outcome to be. There are several reasons for this
- Their primary concern is delivering exceptional content – and that’s all
- The way they will deliver doesn’t cross their minds
- Little if any attention is given to consciously adding humour
- Being doubtful of their ability to succeed, some presenters allow their fear to become their focus
- The old adage “Begin with the end in mind” is either ignored, forgotten or unknown.
Do people intentionally start off by undermining their presentations? Most certainly not. They’re doing what they think they have to do – putting together brilliant content. Perhaps the pressure of speaking to an audience causes a loss of logic and clear thinking simultaneously. Whatever it is – the most basic rules seem to fly away as soon as a presentation looms.
Would you stand at the beginning of any sporting event in which you are participating, and ahead of the start shoot yourself in the limbs most needed to achieve success? I’m sure you would not, but a great many presenters do precisely that in a figurative sense.
For presentations, you need your brain most of all. It needs to be free from negative self-talk, panic, confusion or any emotion which may hinder you from attaining your objective. You need to fill your head with positive self talk and tangible evidence that you will succeed. You can’t change the audience. They’ll be different each time and are what they are. They will react according to what you deliver. But you can change what you think, how you prepare, whether you rehearse or not and how you deliver your message. I’m not too concerned about your content as that’s the part most presenters do rather well – almost too well.
You also need your body. It should be well rested, there should be a relaxed, friendly smile on your face and you should be clad in appropriate attire. Your eyes should focus on the audience almost all the time. You’re addressing them – not the screen displaying your visuals. And you should use gestures – plenty of meaningful ones, because that’s what you do when you’re speaking naturally about something you’re passionate about, so that’s what’s needed when you present.
A presentation is an opportunity to get your message across whatever it may be, and perhaps secure action from your audience. Make sure that from the moment you start your preparations you mentally begin preparing for success. That’s the best way of ensuring you’ll achieve it.