“I just secured my first job in my dream company and the first task from my supervisor is to make a presentation to the management on how I plan to accomplish the first 5 tasks on my Job Description. I’ve never had to do a presentation to such an audience and I’m low key panicking. I think I might screw it up and lose the job at the same time. Please help!” Grace.
I received this email from a close friend. I decided to reply in form of a blog post.
Most of us panic as soon as soon as we get such assignments either in school or work. The good news is, there is something you can do to mitigate your fear of public speaking.
Public Speaking Preparation
A large part of the success of your presentation lies in your preparation. Most people ignore this bit. Why waste time on preparation? Without preparing for your public speaking activity, you will not communicate with your audience intentionally. It is okay not to prepare if it is a social setting. But if you are trying to get something done, it is good to have a strategy.
Public Speaking Preparation Tips
Before you know what you are going to say, it is important to know WHY you are saying it. There are 3 key things you should pay attention to while preparing for public speaking:
- The Goal – What do you want to achieve after your presentation is done? Define the goal you want to achieve and write it down. The clearer you are, the easier it is for you to achieve it. Be specific. This will help you to avoid giving the audience unnecessary information. If you don’t know what you want to say, you might end up wasting time. In a great presentation, there are 3 possible goals;
- Your listener gains new information. With this new knowledge, they start perceiving things differently.
- Your audience makes a decision based on the information you give them. The decision may be made at the moment or at a later date. If your presentation is about environmental degradation, for example, your audience may decide to reduce the amount of trash they produce.
- Your audience takes action. E.g one signs you a cheque to fund your business.
- Importance- Why should the audience listen to you? What would they win or lose if they do not do what you tell them? If your audience doesn’t care about your presentation, they will not pay attention.
- Point- Make sure you clarify your point. What is the one sentence that you want your audience to remember long after the presentation is over? This avoids the negative feedback that there is no point. It should be in one memorable phrase or sentence.
Public Speaking Skills
Great work! You have completed the preparation phase. You are now ready to begin. Your presentation should have 3 parts;
- A beginning – This is aimed at capturing the attention of the audience so that they can keep listening.
- Middle – Gives your listeners the key information you want to pass to them.
- An end- This enables the listeners to make a decision. It should be an emotional ending with a call to action.
The 3 parts are all important. It’s easier to come up with them when you have prepared as shown above.
Start your public presentation with something that grabs the attention of the audience. You should be able to;
- Connect with the audience. For example, you could do this with a short personal story that relates to your presentation.
- Convince them you are there to help. Yes, they need to know this so that they feel their time is valued.
Tip: People have a lot of distractions especially mobile phones that they are addicted to. Your introduction should be powerful enough to make your audience look up from their phones.
This is the part where you give your audience the information they need to know. You can divide your information into different topics. This makes it easier for your audience to follow your presentation and understand. For example, if you are making a presentation on environmental degradation, you can divide your presentation into topics such as;
- The causes of environmental degradation.
- Safe ways to take care of the environment.
- Ways we can teach children to take care of the environment.
- How to manage and reduce waste.
This is the bit where you have your Call to Action. In the case of the Environmental presentation above, you could ask people to raise their hands if they would want to make a pledge to reduce the amount of waste they produce. You can also end with a powerful question related to the topic that gets people to think about their actions or current situation.
All these useful tips take practice. The more you put them into practice, the easier it is to hit the stage and make a stellar presentation! Do tell us in the comment section your favourite ways to make a great presentation and especially tips to beat stage fright. As always, see you on top of the success ladder!