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Do you dread public speaking?

Do you avoid situations where you might have to stand up in front of others? You are not alone! Research once found that people feared public speaking even more than death!

Here are three steps to help you present with confidence:

Step 1: Tune in to WII FM Radio

You will be presenting to a group of people. Why should they listen to you? They will be thinking: “Whats In It For Me?” Put yourself in their shoes. What information do they need from you? What concerns do they need addressed? You may have different interest groups in your audience so give each of them what they are looking for.

Decide what you want them to do or remember as they leave the room after your presentation. Use that as a starting point to put structure into your presentation plan. Remember to KISS (Keep It Short And Simple)  – put the detail in a handout or softcopy so as not to confuse your audience.

Think about how you are going to hook them in with your opening sentence. If you feel your subject  may be boring, find some interesting angle to bring it to life. Tell a story, show a photograph, ask a question, give a surprising statistic – anything that relates to your subject. And when you close at the end of your presentation, end with a bang and not a whimper.

Step 2: Get Creative with your Content

Often when people have to present, they play it safe and build a series of text slides on PowerPoint. And then they hold a “Read With Me” lesson with their audience.  Also known as “Death by PowerPoint”. This is usually quite swift, as a person’s attention span is only 20 minutes even with a good presentation!

So think outside the box and make your presentation an enjoyable experience. Experiment with different ideas that relate to the topic. Tell personal stories. Use Powerpoint to show photographs or simple diagrams. Bring physical objects into the room and pass them around. Show video clips (YouTube is a great source) or play sound bites. Arrange your audience into small groups and get them to answer some good, probing questions.

Step 3: Get into the Zone

So, you have sorted out what you are going to say, and decided how you are going to get your message across.  In the few days before you present,mentally “get into the zone” to banish the nerves.

Visualise yourself in front of the group, presenting with passion to an attentive audience. See it, hear it, feel it. Any negative thought is forbidden. (Your brain is like a computer; tell yourself you can’t do something, and it will comply).

Then on the day, I put on your best clothes (to give you confidence) and your best smile.

Follow these three steps and find opportunities to present regularly. You will find your confidence will grow in other areas of your life too. As Susan Jeffers once said: “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway!”

Ann Halloran is the owner of In-Tuition, In Company Learning Solutions

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