Do you get nervous about an upcoming presentation? Believe it or not, many individuals who give presentations and from the outside looking in, they seem to be super confident, not nervous one bit and communicated a well structured presentation. My professional background requires that I give presentations very frequently but I had to go through the challenges of getting over the uneasy feeling and quite honestly, I still feel nervous before each presentation.
I truly feel that it is quite natural to feel this nervousness and it seems to come on stronger when you feel that what you are presenting means a lot to you. I know of many other great presenters who also shared with me that they too still get nervous before giving a presentation, but they have learned how to deal with the uneasiness and met the challenge head on.
When I failed miserably early on with my presentations and had experienced the worst presentation fail during my college time, I am surprised that giving presentations have been a large part of my career expectations. I faced my fears and learned how to not only overcome the fears but accept the weird feelings I get when giving a presentation. As I took each opportunity to give presentations, I slowly learned how to manage the nerves, look past it and focus on delivering what I want to say.
It takes getting up and giving presentations to overcome that fear. I have found the process to help me prepare, design and deliver my presentations where I sometimes don’t think twice about it and approach it with a lot more confidence. I still get nervous but I learned how to approach giving presentations.
You might be that college student who has to give a presentation tomorrow for class, or maybe you were asked by your boss to give a presentation to the team, I have survived those situations and I am sure many others have well.
The one thing that really helped me was to keep it simple and to not over-complicate it. When I first started out giving presentations, my planning process was very time consuming which led me to stay up all night, which of course is a bad idea and sleep is very important, but I would try to cram as much as possible, try to impress with tons of data and what I wound up with was a presentation slide deck filled with lots of data that I could not memorize or even begin to make any sense of. Try to keep it very minimal and use the presentation slides to hold an image with maybe 3 words max to serve as a trigger for you to discuss your 1-3 main ideas.
Have the end in mind and use the 1-3 main ideas to support that end. People remember images, not line after line of data. When you have a presentation deck filled with text, you usually wind up reading word for word and those are the worst presentations.
Keep it simple, get used to the “weird” and nervous feelings you get and you can learn your reactions to giving presentations by practicing as well as taking the opportunities to give presentations and learn as you go.
The best time to prepare and learn is when you don’t have to give a presentation and take the time to learn the different concepts and approaches, versus cramming at the last minute to learn how to prepare, and design your presentation. The time focusing on your content then suffers because of it. Find a simple process and solution that works for you.
Trust me when I say, that I survived being a total presentation fail and many others who look smooth and confident also had their start somewhere and it isn’t easy, but it is a skill that can be developed.