Some people love making presentations; many people hate it. At some point in our lives, most of us will have to do it. Read on for three tips to help you make mic-drop worthy presentations this year.
“The will to succeed is important, but more important is the will to prepare.” Retired basketball coach Bob Knight said it best. Sure we all want to be successful, but that’s not enough. Preparation is key. Some argue that they don’t want to over-prepare because presentations should seem natural. On the contrary, presentations are most natural after lots and lots of preparation. Think of jazz music. The musician practices and practices a piece to the point that he can veer away from the score and improvise. Likewise, a good presenter knows the material so well that they can go off script and still speak as an authority on the subject.
It can be painful to watch a tense, nervous person make a presentation. The audience can’t focus on the content because they feel so bad for the presenter. Meditation is a great way to calm nerves before stepping into the limelight. In fact, research tells us that deep breathing can lower the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. If possible, set aside ten minutes before you are scheduled to present. Find a quiet space where you won’t be disturbed and sit tall in a chair or on the floor. Close your eyes and visualize a positive outcome. Imagine what you will feel like after you finish making a successful presentation. Then let it go and focus on the breath moving in and out your nose. Deepen the breath so that the belly expands. When your mind wanders back to the presentation or something else, gently escort it back to your breath. Check out the New York Times’ guide to meditation to learn more.
Want to amp up your meditation? Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to a diffuser and inhale while you meditate. A 2013 study published by the National Institutes of Health proves that lavender is highly effective at reducing stress and anxiety.
Above all, be yourself. Sounds cheesy, but it’s true. It’s hard to focus on a robot spewing facts. People are engaged by authenticity and vulnerability. If you’re a little nervous, say so. If you’re really excited, let it show. Speak to your audience like you already know they’re on your side and they will be.
Give these strategies a shot and see what works for you. Better yet, put them all together. If you thoroughly prepare and spend a little time in meditation, you’ll be able to be your authentic self and engage an audience like never before. Now get out there and present!