Presentation Skills – Killer presentation

Three things that helped me deliver a killer presentation.

“Just be yourself”” That’s the common advice people give when someone ask for tips in order to deliver an amazing presentation. I really used to believe that, all you have to do is just go up there and be yourself.

In my case, I was shy, couldn’t look people in the eye, was very afraid of making a mistake, and of course I would shake like a Polaroid picture.

One day I had to deliver a presentation on personal finance, a theme that I’m very passionate about, and I really wanted to make a good impression; after all, I was being paid for it. I could go up on stage and just “be myself” but I started looking online for tips on how to perform well on stage. I was shocked with the amount of things I didn’t know about public speaking, I was only 2 days away from my presentation. I began to panic. I thought to myself, “there’s no way for me to learn all these skills in 2 days, I will just pick 3 and go for it. Let me share with you the 3 tips I chose to follow for my first killer presentation.

Fake it till you make it
Oh yes, that’s true, you need to learn how to fake it because let’s face it, when they call your name, your body stands up but you brain remains seated. Your palms begin to sweat, your shoulders become heavy, your hands start shaking, your knees suddenly become weak, you forget some letters of the alphabet…you are terrified! When you are terrified your body speaks, and when the audience notices your body language, they become uncomfortable.Suddenly there is this huge pink elephant in the room, you can see in their face that you are not sending a good vibe, and this affects your performance, because instead of focusing on your presentation, you are trying to understand why the atmosphere is very tense.

Let me help you, the problem is you, because of all the hints you are giving to the audience that you are terrified. Its not easy to get rid of this feeling, you need a lot of practice, a lot of hours standing in front of a crowd and delivering speeches. That is why you need to learn to fake that you are comfortable until you become comfortable. Act as if you are confident, relaxed and the audience will also follow your lead, they will relax, give you positive vibes, the elephant in the room will disappear, and something magical will happen. You will reach a moment in your presentation that you no longer need to fake it, you will actually be relaxed and confident. So next time they call your name, stand up like a champion that is going to bring home the gold… fake it, till you make it.

Eye contact
Since I joined Toastmasters, I can say that 70% of the evaluations I’ve heard, speak about eye contact, because it’s very important for communication to take place. The need for eye contact is so important even you as the speaker need eye contact from the crowd in order to feel that someone is listening to you. People listen with their ears, so you actually don’t need their eyes, however, communication it’s not just getting some sounds in your brain and find out the meaning. A lot happens in the communication process, and eye contact is an important tool. When you get up on the stage, it is important that you try your best to make contact with your audience with your eyes. You don’t have to look at everyone, just spread your eye contact randomly all over the crowd. This way everyone will have the feeling that you are looking at them, that means that you care, and if you care, they will also care.
Last but not least…

Speak up
The only time that its okay for you to turn down the volume of your voice, is when you are talking to your loved one, sharing your deepest feelings. Other than that, speak up, because if you are speaking, you should give everyone a chance to hear what you are saying. Don’t be afraid to be loud, most of the times, when you think that you are being loud, you are not, its just the fact that you are not used to hear your voice that loud. But get this, most of the times, the audience does not know you, they don’t know how loud you speak, so you can tune it up. To find the perfect tone of voice it’s very easy, just speak louder than you normally do and then add 50%, the people on the back of the room will appreciate this.

For my first presentation, I used this 3 tips, and it went amazingly well. Since that day, every time they call my name to go to the stage I do this ritual, walk to the stage like a champion, a professional speaker, when I arrive there a I look left, center, right, spreading my eye contact, then increase my voice volume by 150% and start talking!

Domingos Novela

Maputo Club Mozambique