Here’s How the Pros Do It

There is nothing easy about presenting in front of a group of people.  Public speaking is one of the most common fears and tends to cause a great deal of anxiety for many people.  However, being able to deliver a good presentation is an incredibly useful and often crucial skill.  That said captivating an audience is a skill that takes a tremendous amount of practice.  Even the pros spend time preparing and practicing before a speaking engagement.  Here are a few tips on how the pros prepare for a presentation.

Plan Appropriately

The best speakers spend time outlining their presentation.  It is important to think about how you are going to structure your presentation and what you will say.   This does not mean to script the entire presentation, but rather jot down a brief outline of your main points.  Start by deciding what you want your audience to take away from your presentation.  Beginning with the end goal in mind will keep you on track.  Next, the pros spend time developing the opening of their presentation.  They know how important it is to grab the audience’s attention right away.  For example, you could start with an interesting statistic, deadline, or story that pertains to your topic.  Learning how to organize a presentation will also be helpful if you are ever asked to present on short notice.

Practice, Practice, Practice

We are all familiar with the old adage “Practice make perfect.”  You simply cannot be a confident, compelling speaker without plenty of practice.  The professionals make it look so easy when they step on stage but you can be assured they spent plenty of time practicing beforehand.  Here are few of their best practice tips:

-Practice speaking in front of family, friends, or colleagues.  They will be able to provide helpful feedback and it will help you get more comfortable in front of an audience.

-Video yourself giving your presentation.  When you play it back, pay close attention to your body language and speaking voice.  Make a note of anything you need to change.

-Practice your entire presentation multiple times in front of a mirror.   Get used to using cue cards and avoid trying to memorize the entire presentation.

Breathe

Even the bets public speakers get nervous before stepping on stage.  The symptoms of fear and anxiety can be debilitating for a speaker, so it’s important to try and relax your mind and body.  Deep breathing exercises will slow your heart rate and give your body the oxygen needed to speak well.  This is especially important to do right before you speak.  Take deep breaths from your belly, hold for a few seconds, and release it slowly.

Preparing ahead of time, practicing adequately, and coping with nerves are all important tips for delivering a fantastic presentation.  Becoming a dynamic public speaker is a skill that takes years of experience and practice, but these tips from the pros will help you prepare and practice for your next speaking engagement.