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Monday, October 18, 2010
Just thinking about an upcoming presentation causes many speakers to feel squeemish -even for those of us used to speaking. It's a biological response that sets our energies in motion, in search of a plan. So planning is definitely the first step toward a confident presentation.
Planning our end result is key. Do you want to inspire? Do you want to educate? Do you want to persuade? Consider your intended outcome and work that outcome into both your introduction and conclusion. Now you have a set of bounndaries to stay within. With a plan, we feel grounded and ready - but don't expect the butterflies to disappear. They'll keep you geared up and ready to deliver, even with a plan.
Secondly, we must prepare. By this I mean focus on who the audience is, what they know, what they've experienced, what they need, what they want.
Preparation takes work. It means getting away from what you know long enough to relate that information to them during this particular time in their life. It requires thoughtful reflection, some mental calculation, some digging deep to uncover useful tidbits and some willingness to see things through their point of view.
Only this will help you connect with them. Leave them thinking, "Gosh, the speaker is just like me." If they feel this way, the lightbulb in their head will go on regarding your insight. They will not only pay attention to your logic, they will find you credible in understanding them and their needs. Prepare your message with them in mind - respecting who they are, where they've been and how you can support them.
The next step to put into place is practicing. Yet unless we realize what to practice, we could waste our time.
Keep these things in mind: Practice allows us to try out how to use the energy that's all fired up within us so we know what to expect when we're focusing on our message but all that we see is our nerves. With practice we can make use of movement to equalize our energy. We can look at our surroundings instead of the script. We remember that the focus is to be on our audience instead of ourselves. With practice we remember to project our voice into the entire space the group takes up, to use eye contact, to stop for questions and comments and to try out each tool we're relying on. With practice we get ourselves ready to connect. Without it, we stay in our head.
So allow time to adequately plan, prepare and practice. Until you do, you won't sleep well. So even if it's 11pm and you've avoided these steps, take them. You'll go to bed late, but you'll arise the next morning no longer lacking confidence. You'll be energized, focused and ready to connect. What a great place to be.