How to give a killer presentation or…not let your presentation kill you!

 Jun 17, 2015

In preparing for a recent training I gave on ‘Conducting Webinars,’ I came across a Harvard Business Review (HBR) article written by TED Talks’ Curator, Chris Anderson entitled ‘How to give a killer presentation.’ It is a great read with some wonderful tips on putting together a talk, handling nerves and becoming more confident in front of your audience.

The one issue I did have with it, however, was the number of months of preparation that people have to deliver their talks and the amount of rehearsals they do. Anderson was saying that such preparation is the key to the speakers gaining confidence. I am sure it is, but this type of preparation time, in most cases, is just not available in the corporate world.

In our Effective Presentations course, a very common objective for participants is to gain confidence. So, is it possible to do that without rehearsal or practice time?

Sorry to be ambivalent here, but the answer to that is yes and no.

No, because confidence generally comes through being so familiar with something that you become so adept at it; it just becomes second nature. As Malcolm Gladwell proposed in ‘The Outliers,’ ten thousand hours is about the sweet spot for a person to become a master at their craft. He puts forward the Beatles as an example of a well-rehearsed unit that was highly capable when their opportunities came along; and boy, were they confident.

You don’t have to do 10,000 hours to gain confidence at a skill but being a dabbler at something may mean that you may never gain the consistency and confidence to really feel good at what you are doing. So that means more rehearsal may be necessary.

So here we hit the catch-22 situation. If you are not confident at something or don’t like it then you will probably not do the hours to build the confidence. Is there any other way?

Certainly, to a point, and that is where the 'yes' comes in.

Here are three suggestions to help put yourself out there to build the confidence:

  1. Know that nerves are okay – without having any anxiety your performance will be flat, but most people get anxious about being anxious and that pushes them over the edge and erodes their confidence.

  2. Get constructive feedback to know what works and what doesn’t – find someone who you trust, who gives presentations themselves, to give you feedback on content and delivery. Certainty builds confidence and having a person of experience to give you tips, builds that certainty. Many people who attend our Presentation Mastery program report this is the most valuable part.

  3. Learn structure – Good presenters have well-structured content and here’s the secret…you might think that there would be as many ways to present as there are people but in fact, there is only a small number of structures. The trick is to choose the right one for your topic because different structures support different topics or objectives. In our ‘Think on Your Feet®’ program, we teach the ten most common invisible structures that support, not only good presentation but also one-on-one conversations as well. Again, participants often report that knowing these structures boosts their confidence.

Check out Chris Anderson’s HBR article ‘How to give a killer presentation’ via this link it may prevent your next presentation from killing you!

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About the Author:

Tim Higgs  

Tim has been involved in the corporate training industry for over 15 years; seven of these have been as the Portfolio Manager and Senior Facilitator at New Horizons. Tim holds a Graduate Diploma (Psych/Couns), a masters’ degree in Cultural Psychology and a bachelor’s degree in Business, giving him a unique theoretical backdrop for understanding human performance in the workplace. This complements his actual experience of working within the corporate sector in sales and management positions and owning and running a small business. Having worked with individuals and groups in both clinical and business settings, Tim has a fantastic insight into human behaviour, motivation and the issue of human change.

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