by Marianne D’Alessandro | Featured Contributor
Oh those butterflies – the ones that play in your stomach, that make you light-headed, that even make you nauseous – that wait until you need to give a presentation before they make themselves known! Public speaking is one of the top fears. Tame those butterflies!
I remember one of my first presentations. I had 5 or 6 pages all typed out. It was a great presentation – all double spaced, large text, beautifully formatted – just read and get it over with was what I thought. Was I ever wrong. It was the worst night of my life. I can’t believe I made people sit through that! I can’t believe anyone even bothered to listen. Well, here I am about 20 years later and there’s nothing I love more (other than admin work), than giving presentations.
What I learned is, it’s all about steps. You didn’t learn to walk the first time, you didn’t learn to ride a bike single-handedly, you learned to read one word at a time. Giving presentations is the same. There’s so many steps or parts to a fantastic presentation. The main one, in my opinion, is practice, practice, practice. So let’s talk about that first – PRACTICE.
The Pareto Principle is the 80/20 rule. So usually what happens with presentations is that we spend 80% of time building our content and only 20% of the time practicing. So what part is harder – usually it’s the practicing. The nerves will get you every time! Putting our content together is a piece of cake, a walk through the park, it’s what we live in breathe (in most cases). So why spend so much time on it? The delivery, on the other hand, is what most people fear. Ask people to write an article, they most likely jump at the opportunity. Ask people to stand up and give the presentation, not so much.
So what’s the best way to practice. First off, don’t repeat my mistake. Do not write your notes in full ext with paragraphs. Use different formats:
- Key words – jot down key words or phrases that you want to cover
- Bullet points – keep it all in bullet points or numbered points so you can easily follow
- Mind maps – if you’re visual, this is for you – draw out your presentation so you can follow your image
Whatever you do, do not and I repeat, do not, use PowerPoint slides as your notes! We’ll talk about visual aids in a future article, but take my advice and do not use PowerPoint slides as your notes.
Back to practicing – why are notes part of practicing. Because they are your rock, your security blanket – you create them – you use them over and over again until the images of those words on those pages are embedded into your brain. You want to know those notes, visualize them, because that is what will keep you calm and focused. You’ll speak naturally, you’ll talk as if you’ve known the information your entire life, you’ll be conversational and most of all, you’ll have fun! You really will because you won’t be dazed and confused, you’ll be focused.
Practice in front of the mirror, in front of your family and friends, in front of your pets. It doesn’t matter, just get comfortable standing and delivering the message from those notes.
There is no substitution to practice. We teach this to children, we might even use it in our adult lives in our activities – practice truly does make perfect.
Keep calm and flutter on!
Marianne D’Alessandro knows how busy an executive can be. Marianne has been an Executive Assistant for 30+ years. She has supported many, many, many senior level execs and is now working toward her own virtual assistant business. Her goal is to save time for her clients by looking after their admin tasks. When it comes to public speaking, she conquered her fear more than 20 years ago by taking, and now instructing, the Christopher Leadership Courses of Canada. The highlight for her was traveling to China to train instructors to teach the course there! Marianne loves seeing people take the challenge and conquer the fear by “taming those butterflies!”