Don't Turn Off Your Audience!

Recently, we witnessed presenters who

·      Talked to the screen for most of a presentation.

·      Read text from slides to the audience.

·      Stood behind a lectern the whole time.

·      Read from their notes in an obvious reading tone.

·      Moved their mouth away from the microphone at times.

·      Seemed surprised by the next slide’s appearance.

·      Crammed too much material, in too small a font, on slides.

·      Played with their hair while speaking.

Our recommendation:

Think about what the audience sees! Many things are out of our control; eliminating our own distractions is something we can do.

Nervousness When Speaking

Nervousness when Speaking

In school, remember how you felt as you were about to take an exam?  If you were prepared and ready, you felt relatively calm and confident.  If you didn’t know the material well enough, you were nervous.  Presentations produce the same feelings.

Why we get nervous

Symptoms of nervousness are natural; they help our body prepare for challenges.  (Think of the cave people warding off large, predatory animals!)  Butterflies, shaking hands or knees, stuttering, dry mouth, sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat all signal that your body is revving up for challenge.

What the good news is

In most cases, nervousness doesn’t show.  Your audience sees only what you do and say—not what you think or feel.  Seeing yourself on video, you’ll be surprised that you look much different than you thought.

Nervousness is actually a good thing.  A little edginess helps you appear energetic.  If you’re not fired up about your subject, your audience won’t be either.

What to do about nervousness

Prepare and rehearse.  The more you prepare, the less nervous you’ll be.  How much preparation you need depends on how comfortable you are with your material.  Rehearse until you feel confident.

So, remember…

  • Nervousness is natural
  • Everybody gets nervous to some degree
  • Nervousness doesn’t show
  • Plan specific time to prepare and to rehearse
  • If you think you suffer from dry mouth, place a glass of water nearby

Avoid Perils of Using Slides

Don’t bore your audience!

Use slides to support your points.  Your slides are not the presentation; you are the presentation with visual emphasis provided by slides, chart boards, props, or video segments.

Pointers for slides that work:

Use pictures, graphics, graphs more than straight text
No full sentences anywhere on slides–use key word phrases
Keep slide titles concise and action oriented
Use lots of white space
Vary slide formats: don’t use bullet lists on every slide, for example
Make the font size large enough for the audience to read easily
Use dark font colors for easy reading
Reduce “noise” on all slides–remove extraneous lines, punctuation, graphics–so that important content stands out

And for you…

Don’t read from slides.  Slides are not your notes.  Slides are for the audience.  Make your notes separately, either on paper or in PowerPoint’s Presenter View.

Orient your body to face the audience.  Maintain eye contact with your audience, not with the big screen.  Position your laptop between you and the audience to facilitate eye contact; look down at your laptop screen, then up at your audience.  Do not turn your back or side to the audience to look at that big projection screen.