Taking the sweat out of your next presentation

This post courtesy of MD2MD speaker on Communications, Michael Dodd

Speaking in public has the remarkable power of unsettling some of the toughest people – even chief executives.  I’ve been working on presentation skills with a lot of business leaders of late and have been surprised that so many complain about getting butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms and worse at the thought of presenting their thoughts to an audience. Even those used to macho endeavours like bungy-jumping, parachuting and hang-gliding can find these activities less fear-inducing than putting their company’s case to a group of prospects or potential investors.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

There’s a number of things you can do to get these adverse physical side effects of public speaking nerves under control.

Being physically warmed up before you start, taking a few deep slow breaths to fill you with confidence, standing more upright and getting your hands and legs in the right places are amongst the things which can make you feel better about it.

But the performance side is just one of three elements to supercharging your presentational efforts.

The other two are choosing the best content – and getting the structure correct so that you say things in the appropriate order.

When you get the content right and the structure right then magically you feel much, much better about the actual performance – and those palms remain dryer.

This happens whether it’s a business pitch to alluring new prospects, a (hopefully) motivational speech to your staff or that nerve-wracking best man’s speech you have to give.

If you have any doubt about the importance of getting the content of that right, watch this video of Hugh Grant’s car crash of a best man’s speech in Four Weddings And A Funeral:

Here he unwisely talks about the previous time when he gave a best man’s speech for a couple whose marriage went on to last just two days (two violent days). Even a less-than-sensitive Australian could probably tell that choosing to talk about the previous groom’s sexual adventures with the bride’s younger sister and mother may not have been his best content choice.

And there’s a method for quickly sorting out what should stay in and what should be thrown out.  You can do this by drawing two overlapping circles on a page.

The green circle is for all the things you could say to that particular audience.

The orange circle is all the things that particular audience is actually interested in.

What you need to focus on is the overlap area in blue.

What falls here is the win-win point where you’re telling the audience exactly what that audience needs from you.

In my new sessions on “Presenting with Confidence, Impact and Pizzazz” we work on ensuring that what you say is only what’s in this win-win zone.  This is because the most promising speech in the world is not enticing at all if delivered to the wrong audience…as Hugh Grant will attest!  And we’ll also show you the magic formula for getting your structure right.

For those who have been on my “Giving Great Answers To Tough Questions” workshop, you’ll know that there are a couple of magic formulae which – when you deploy them – make it very logical to determine the order in which you should say things to your questioners.  Similarly there’s a magic formula for putting your material in the right order in your next presentation.  So when you get the content right and structure right, you’ll be a far better place to get your performance right – and reduce the sweat on your palms.  And if you still get a few butterflies in your belly, at least you’ll have them flying in formation!

Copyright michael@michaeldoddmedia.com