We recently did a survey on this topic with all of our tenants that are currently in our student accommodation southampton flats, the results showed that unless you are naturally blessed with bags of confidence, public speaking can be a hugely daunting prospect. National statistics show that as many as 75% of people have a fear of speaking in public, a trait otherwise known as glossophobia. So, if public speaking is one of your primal fears, it’s important to remember that you are not alone! This anxiety affects such a large percentage of the population that glossophobia is consistently rated number 1 on the phobia scale, surpassing even a fear of death. Worries about getting it wrong, messing up slides or looking silly in front of your peers can all add up to make the process unbearable, but worry not! We have put together some tips to give you a head start on your next presentation;
Concentrate on core message
When planning your presentation, remember to keep it simple and focus on the key message you want to convey to your audience to avoid rambling and getting lost on the day. Condense the main points into a brief 15-word summary which you can use to drive your point home.
Stating to prepare you presentation way ahead of schedule gives you time to practice, practice, practice! Deliver your presentation to empty rooms to get a feel of pitch and tone, record yourself to get an idea of your strengths and weaknesses and sign up to a public speaking group at university to get feedback on your ideas. Building confidence now will make you competent and confident when it’s your turn on the podium.
The beginning part of your presentation is crucial in getting the audience’s attention.
Use the first few minutes to wow them with an unexpected fact or statement to get them to pay attention to the next part.
Use visual aids
Audiences are much more likely to stay interested if they have visual references. Using well-designed PowerPoint slides and fancy handouts will reduce the chances of the audience looking straight at you.
This is a method from Guy Kawaski of Apple, who suggests that slideshows should contain no more than 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes and use a font size of no less than 30 point, to avoid cramming too much on to one slide. Also popular is the 20-20 rule, which suggests using 20 slides each lasting 20 seconds, forcing you to be concise and snappy.
When your face goes red and your palms start sweating, breathing properly is usually quite far down the list of things you remember to do. Take a few deep breaths before the presentation and try to inhale through your nose instead of saying “er” or “um” in between sentences.
Making eye contact and smiling are two of the most sure-fire ways to get an audience on your side. Shaking is a dead giveaway of someone’s lack of confidence and holding paper can exaggerate any miniscule tremors that might be going through your hands, so think about holding a pen as a prop instead to point at slides. Stand up straight, open your stance and angle yourself towards your audience. Remember not to cover your chest with your arms or lean against anything as this can signify laziness and disinterest.
Engage the audience
Throwing questions out to your audience every now and again is a great way to keep them focussed on what you’re saying and make them feel as though they are actively participating in the presentation.