Presenting is something that I have always dreaded. I couldn’t tell you exactly why I hate presenting so much, but I do. I hate it. It’s the worst. Ok, maybe I’m being a little bit dramatic, but I still don’t enjoy presenting. I’m sure most people have been told at some point in life to picture the audience in their underwear while the presentation is going on. I don’t know why this piece of “advice” was ever shared because it’s horrendous. Picturing my classmates, and one day coworkers, in their underwear sounds mortifying. That’s an image that I do not need to see in my head. Luckily for all of us who hate presenting, there are resources that share some tips on how to present well. Before I get to that, I want to talk about a scene from The Office. In this scene, Dwight is tasked with giving a speech at a big corporate convention. Dwight is terrified of public speaking and turns to Jim for some advice. Jim takes this as an opportunity to prank Dwight and gives him tips based off of a Benito Mussolini speech. Let’s just say that the presentation did not go well. A piece of advice, do NOT model your presentation after a dictator’s.
I read an article that listed eighteen different tips to help with presenting. I’m not going to talk about every point, but I will highlight ones I find to be especially helpful. One of the points it made was to slow down. This seems like a no brainer but it is often forgotten about. I know I personally forget about it a lot. I get so focused on just getting through the presentation so I don’t have to be in front of people anymore. Another one I liked was saying, “That’s a good question,” after someone in the audience asks something. This method allows you to have a couple more seconds to think of a response. The last one from this article I want to highlight is taking a breath in, not out. This is another method that allows you to take a quick break. Breathing in is also a substitute for saying “um” or “uh.” I had never heard of this technique before but I definitely want to try it. I’m one of those people who says “uh” without even thinking about it.
Something that stuck out to me when we talked about presenting in class was being present. Again, this sounds like a no brainer, but it often is forgotten about as well. When being present while presenting, the audience will be more engaged. Nobody wants to listen to a presentation that even the presenter isn’t interested in. That’s lame. In the TedTalk embedded below, David Phillips talks about how to make a good presentation and how to not get killed by PowerPoint. Phillips talks about how to make a PowerPoint that is simple and easy for your audience to follow along with. Having a complicated presentation is bad for all parties involved. If the audience doesn’t understand what is being presented to them then the whole presentation is a waste. Phillips also points out the we are the presentation. The PowerPoint is just the visual aid. The PowerPoint behind us should help the presentation, not hinder it by being too distracting.
Will I ever truly enjoy giving a presentation? That answer remains unknown. Only time will tell. Will I ever not be nervous about giving a presentation? I hope so. As time goes on I hope to implement some of the methods I mentioned previously. Maybe one day I won’t panic completely.