Presentation ParanoiaWritten by Graham Yemm
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Organise all of this into a sensible sequence. Have a beginning, middle and end, preferably building up emphasis of your message.Develop a story – make sure that there is a flow to overall presentation. Look to build in hooks for key points or messages. People often recall stories and anecdotes more than dry facts.Check plan against time you will have. (You will speak at around 100-120 words a minute when your nerves are under control. A 15 minute presentation is around 1,700 words or so, which is only 4-5 pages of A4.) Also remember, you are speaking so choose your language with this in mind, especially when making notes.What do you need to support your story or message? Visual aids, props, notes, other material which might be suitable. Remember, these things are there to support you not to take over. If using Powerpoint, avoid “death by…” and use slides sparingly – and keep them clear and easy to read! When you are comfortable that you have overall structure, content and support material organised you will feel more comfortable. Check it flows sensibly, covers main points, meets objectives and you may even start to look forward to presentation. PLEASE now work at one vital part – your opening!
The old saying, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” is so true. The audience are judging you on many levels as you start and this will influence how they will respond. Add to fact that you are fighting your own nerves and probably think you have enough to worry about!! By concentrating on getting opening right, you can achieve several aims in one.
It is important to create your own opening, it can become your “anchor” to help you manage yourself. Practice introducing yourself, stating your reason for being there, what you want to achieve and how you want audience to be. (eg, when can they ask questions.) If you can deliver this part almost without thinking, you can keep your attention on audience and their responses. If you are worried about what to say, you will be so internally focused you will not be able to pay attention to them. Whether you use humour, stories or challenging facts to start – or anything else – is a matter of choice. However, be careful with humour. You never know who may be offended – or how you and others will react if joke or story falls flat.
Another important thing is to handle your nerves. First of all, realise that it is OK to have them! The trick is to learn to use them to your advantage and to not let them take you over. There are some simple things you can do and by practising them you will find that they have applications in all sorts of areas of life.
Visualisation (or “imaginisation”) – put yourself in presentation and see it going well, you in control of room and audience. Experience yourself handling questions, making your points, generally enjoying it. Feel how good it will be at end of presentation when you realise that you have achieved your objectives. See positive.
Breathing – this is one of most effective ways of handling adrenaline buzz that comes with heightened nervousness. Take a deep, slow breath – feel your diaphragm moving out as you do this. Hold breath for several seconds – then let it go, slowly. (Press your hand just under your ribs and feel lower lungs empty and help them on way.) Hold breath again before repeating in-breath. (Some use a count of 7-4-7-4 for this.) Do this for 3 full cycles and you will notice your heart rate slowing and begin to feel oxygen levels rise in your blood. Careful of more than this, you may start to hyperventilate!
When you move to start your presentation, take a deep breath as above, step to where you will deliver from, look around audience as you breathe out and establish eye contact. Now you are ready to begin.
The other element to prepare is your ending. Many nervous presenters are fine with middle, content part of their sessions. They let themselves down with front and back – and often lose potential impact because of this. Work out how you want to summarise and then close things off. If all else fails, use basic rule, tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em and tell ‘em what you told ‘em.
“Begin at beginning and go on until you come to end, then stop.” Lewis Carroll
This is just a start to cover some of basics. When you are comfortable with these, there are many more areas you can work on. There are ways you can help yourself if you need to develop your presentation and speaking skills apart from training organisations such as ours. The Professional Speakers’ Association, www.professionalspeakers.org has local “chapters around UK. You can also find a local branch of Toastmasters International, who will offer encouragement and training – although in a different style.
Graham Yemm a founding partner of Solutions 4 Training Ltd. He has worked with many different organisations around the world conducting both training and consultancy assignments. He is a Master Practitioner of NLP and an accredited trainer for the LAB profile programme – “Words that Change Minds”. Contact,
Who do you talk to?Written by Graham Yemm
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Mentors: A mentor is somewhat different to a coach, though we could go into a long debate about where differences lie. Typically, a mentor is someone who has relevant experience and expertise to share with you, though they do not necessarily give specific advice. Many of us use mentors at times in our lives, often without knowing it. We find person we respect and start to talk to them! A number of large organisations have set up formal mentoring schemes and you may have experienced this. There are many mentoring options available through professional bodies or on a local level, although many of these are focussed on helping you to achieve professional qualifications or maintaining CPD criteria. If you want to look for a mentor, you might want to approach your networks and even family and ask for their ideas or recommendations. You want somebody who will be a good listener to act as a sounding board, who can then share ideas from their own experiences about what pitfalls to consider and what options you may want to pursue. The mentoring relationship can be formal, informal or a combination – with a frequency to suit you.
Coaches: This can be an emotive subject these days! The world seems to be filling with “executive” and “life” coaches. Fundamentally, executive coaches will work with you on business and career issues, life coaches work with you on what you want, which may span both work and home. However, boundaries are often more blurred than that and good executive coaches (who probably have more business experience than many life coaches) will frequently work with you on both aspects.
Coaches will work differently to mentors in that they rarely offer advice. A good coach will support and challenge you on your issues and help you to focus on what you want to achieve. When that is defined they will help you to develop action plans and support you through these, whether by phone, email or face to face sessions. To get good value from a coach, decide what you want to achieve and have some idea of timescale for this. Although relationship can go on beyond this, consider coach as someone to help you achieve specific aims and who will keep you moving forward – as many sports people, musicians and actors do amongst others.
Having a coach may seem something of a luxury or self-indulgence. However, what is cost of things going wrong or not working way you want? Coaching can be shown to have a significant ROI and could be one of best investments you make for you and your business. You want to make sure that you feel a good “fit” with a coach, so look at a few before deciding on who you want to work with and check some of following: