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Last updated on 9/27/23

Present with Confidence

In this chapter, we will look at how to eliminate as much stress as possible, and how to make sure you have everything you need for a successful presentation in the best possible conditions! 😉

Find Out About the Conditions of Your Presentation

One of the first things to do is to learn as much background information as possible. You must be able to answer the following questions:

Online Presentations

If your presentation is online and you'll be at home, make sure you choose the right room and check the following elements:

  • Make sure the room is as quiet as possible.

  • Have a reliable internet connection (if possible, use an Ethernet cable instead of wifi).

  • Pay attention to the visual aids in the background on the webcam.

  • Be well dressed.

Which video conferencing software will you use? Will you record the video conference? Film?

Make sure you own and understand how the presentation software works: Skype, Hangout, etc. And know how to share your screen, so the person you're talking to can see your presentation medium, if you have one, at the same time.

Also, find out if a digital record of your presentation will be kept (audio, video), as this will require you to choose the perfect location. You will also have to pay more attention to your language level and speech quality.

Presentations to an Audience in a Room

Where is the presentation room located? Check it out so you can picture yourself there!

A meeting room with a table, whiteboard and projector
Check out the room beforehand to avoid any surprises.

You need to know the location of your presentation to:

  1. Know how to get there.

  2. Not get lost and be late on the day.

You must also know the set up of the room to plan where you will stand, as well as the available technology.

Can you use a video projector? Will you have a microphone? If so, what type (tie or handheld)? Is there a remote-control pointer available? If not, should you bring one?

If you have prepared a PowerPoint presentation, make sure the necessary equipment is available.

The type of gadget you use will determine your level of freedom of movement. When you hold a microphone in one hand, and remote control in the other, it is difficult to look relaxed.

Pay Close Attention to Lighting

What time is your presentation? What is the light quality in the room? This question may seem strange, but it is important, depending on the presentation media.

If it's during daylight hours, or if the artificial light in the room is too strong, it will be difficult to see your PowerPoint (the images will appear pale). If the black background appears light grey in full light, the text will stand out well. 😎

Two slides. One with black on a white background. The other with white on a black background.
If it's very light, use a white text on a black background, and not the other way round; otherwise, nothing will be seen.

Practice in Advance

You don't become a good speaker in 5 minutes! You have to practice and rehearse over and over again.

On average, a speaker (concerned about the quality of their performance) will spend at least 30 hours preparing for a 1-hour presentation.

"Most presentations are useless because not enough preparation time is devoted to them. You have to create a story that has impact; design great slides to support your point, and then repeat, repeat... and not the night before!" - Jesse Desjardins, blogger

At Home

Once you have finished composing your message and designing the presentation, practice it out loud.

You can do this at home. Practice walking, speaking aloud and scrolling through the slides on your computer. You'll see what sounds off or wrong, and what you can improve. The more you do this, the more relaxed you will be as you get a better grasp on your subject.

In Real Conditions

If you have the opportunity, rehearse in the room where you will make your presentation. When you practice at home, you'll be able to visualize your performance and to make adjustments. This is also a good time to check out the technology.

Prepare Yourself for Questions

You will probably be asked questions at the end of your presentation. Try to anticipate them and prepare answers, so you don't hesitate.

If you don't know how to answer a question, don't panic! Calmly reply that you are not in the position to answer the question but will get back to them as soon as possible. This answer is better than stammering or giving a meaningless response.

Visualize Your Presentation Positively

View your entire presentation, from beginning to end, up until the day:

  1. Visualize yourself giving the presentation; down to the smallest detail.

  2. Visualize yourself giving a successful presentation.

You may get anxious if you imagine a bad outcome. Force yourself to believe that it goes well. 

This visualization technique is effective-especially when repeated often. Often means several days in a row (not in the same evening). For example, if you have a presentation on Friday, do the exercise:

  • Once on Tuesday evening

  • Once on Wednesday evening

  • Once on Thursday evening

Switch to Winning Mode 10 Minutes Before

In the minutes before an oral presentation, you may not know what to do. Rather than waiting awkwardly or idly in front of your computer (if it's online) or in the room (if it's face to face), you can:

  1. Stand up, and if possible, find a quiet room/space.

  2. Stretch out and raise your arms to the sky as high as possible with the "V" of victory (like runners who win a race) for at least two minutes. Repeat this exercise several times if necessary.

  3. Remember a time when you were particularly proud of yourself. Relive that moment, congratulate yourself inwardly, and fill yourself with positive feelings.

I use this technique every time I have to give a presentation in public. And it helps me a great deal.

To get a better idea as to why this is effective, watch Amy Cuddy's conference. 

It's a great video to get you to start thinking about body language.

Keep an Eye on Your Body Language

Keep in my mind that every movement you make (or don't make) gives off a signal.

So remember:

  • Don't cross your arms.

  • Don't pace up and down the room.

  • Don't fiddle with a pen or lean on the table.

  • Stand up straight, anchor your feet to the ground, and breathe.

  • Articulate and speak at a good pace.

Don't let your nerves get the better of you! Take that energy and turn it into enthusiasm.

Where should I look?

Many people don't know where to look. Don’t fix your gaze on one person the whole time. That will make the rest of the audience feel that you are addressing just that person. It could also make that person feel overwhelmed and embarrassed.

Instead, include the whole audience. Sweep the room, resting your gaze at several points.

To do this, follow the W pattern. For example, rest your gaze for a few seconds on one person, then pass to another and so on until you reach the furthest point of the audience. When you reach the end, sweep the audience in the other direction. You can also change directions. 

Make everybody feel included-not just your boss or the people you think are important. Look, speak, then look again and speak again.

Don't Let the Unexpected Get the Better of You

What if I lose my train of thought? Or am caught off guard?

Don't panic if you have blanks or memory lapses. Use these moments to breathe and find your place. It also allows the audience to follow you and understand what you are saying - in most cases.

They don't know the difference between a short voluntary pause and a mental blank. If they do, tell yourself that they are empathetic humans. In 100% of cases, when a speaker forgets their place, the audience applauds to say: (1) "It doesn't matter, we don't love you any less," and (2) "Come on, be brave, you can do it!"

People want to see someone who is natural. No one is interested in a fake and perfect presenter. If you are thirsty and/or feel your voice is hoarse, take a drink of water or clear your throat! If there is a loud noise outside, make a joke about it, or wait for it to stop.

Don't suffer internally, and allow yourself to do what it takes to speak properly!

Let's Recap!

  • Find out where and when will this presentation take place so you're ready for the day and not running around at the last minute.

  • Set a schedule to prepare and leave enough time to rehearse.

  • Be positive and know you can and will succeed!

  • Keep an eye on your body language.

  • Manage the unexpected by allowing yourself to be human and relatable.

  • We're all human, we make mistakes-practice makes perfect!

So that brings us to the end of the course. With all that information you have gathered, take the quiz for the second part of this course to see how you do!

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