Well, here’s two bits of news: First, natural ‘born presenters’ are extremely rare; second, most ‘natural’ presenters have learned how to do it and understand the value of preparation and practise.
Steve Jobs: Was he a natural, or did he have to work hard to be as polished as he was?
We can all become good presenters
This actually matters a great deal. Often people remember the impression that a presenter leaves much more than what they actually said. Yes, your presentation content has to have substance and validity; but it is often the delivery that leaves people with the impression that you know what you are talking about.
The second positive thought process is to tell yourself that you are going to enjoy delivering the presentation. You will be in command of your subject, you will be relaxed, and you will enjoy it.
We have the capacity to convince ourselves that we are all sorts of things. Often this works in a negative way. Find somebody who is convinced that they are clumsy, remind them of this ‘fact’ and then ask them to carry a cup of black coffee across a white carpet while everyone watches; what do you think will happen? On the other hand, great sports coaches are often successful because they have the ability to encourage positive thoughts and make people believe they can achieve more.
Often, what we believe to be the case becomes the reality – so convince yourself first, that you are a confident and relaxed presenter.
Talk to the audience, not the room
Remove barriers – get out from behind the lectern or desk. You can then move around more and have more eye contact. Use positive body language and encourage the audience to focus on you.
Use pauses often, especially after saying anything important. This emphasizes that what you just said is something they should pay particular attention to. Repeat it if it’s really important. Whilst paused make strong eye contact with as many people as possible – let them acknowledge your eye contact, then move on to more of the audience – this is very powerful!
Practise, practise, practise
Make the rehearsal as realistic as possible – deliver the presentation in front of friends or family or look at yourself in a mirror. It might feel embarrassing, but you can iron out what sounds good and what doesn’t and change phrases that don’t sound quite right. You will also see those idiosyncrasies that you have – hands in pocket, going “um” a lot, shuffling or pacing and you can then work on reducing them – I didn’t say getting rid of them altogether, just get them under control.
Once you’ve done the presentation in front of friends, family or a mirror, doing it in front of a live audience is relatively straightforward – honestly!
My top tips:
- Be clear what you want the audience to do as a result of listening to you. Make sure you tell them your purpose early on.
- Engage with the audience. Make a personal connection with them, no matter how numerous they are.
- Rehearse the presentation thoroughly so that you know the material so well you can concentrate on how you engage the audience. The acknowledged industry thinking is 5-8 times for the first time you present the material and 3-5 thereafter.
- Be positive and enjoy the experience!
The Bid Coach helps people from businesses of all sizes to deliver more persuasive presentations and win more contracts through bids and tenders. To find out how he can help you or your team call him on 01963 240555 or visit www.thebidcoach.com