Overcoming Fear When Presenting

Brett Kelly on his fear when presenting:

My brain moves faster than my lips and I very often turn into a yammering idiot when I get halfway through saying something before realizing that it's either unclear or inaccurate and I start quickly qualifying or rewording what I haven't even finished saying yet and it turns into a big ball of suck.

This a tough habit to break. I've learned that it's essential to practice early and often to pinpoint these areas quickly so you don't repeat it. The following are my suggestions that have helped me in avoiding this and in becoming a better presenter.

Brainstorming

Take notes on the sections and points you'll be covering. These are just notes so you don't want to draft out what you'll be saying out loud. That's just a waste of time. Keep these concise. You'll be changing it as you go.

Practice Makes Perfect

No magic here. You need to practice. Once you have a good draft of notes (whether its written down or simple slides with your bullet points) take it with you, bring your laptop and lock yourself in a room. If you have access to a projector, use it. From here start practicing by speaking out loud as if you were giving the presentation in front of a real audience. This will help you find major problem areas now rather than later.

Timing Is Everything

If you find yourself covering a section for about 15 minutes and you have another 4 or 5 more to go and only 50 minutes total that's a good sign that you need to streamline your content. Review your notes and make sure you cover only what is necessary.

The Babbling On Dilemma

Sometimes the issue isn't your notes but that you're talking about a point for to long which has a high chance of not making any sense to you or the audience. Our minds tend to wander much faster than we can speak so its easy to get caught up in this but don't get distraught. It happens to everyone.

It's a hard habit to break so remember when these moments happen, stop, beat yourself up (just a little) and start over. With enough repetition you'll memorize those areas to know to stop speaking. Which now leads me to another excellent tip...

Take A Break!

When moving from point to point don't be afraid to stop and catch your breath. The audience won't find it awkward and in fact they'll appreciate it. It gives them the opportunity to absorb what they've just learned and allows you to gather your thoughts before moving on to the next section.

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