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So you want to be a better presenter?

Presentations and public speaking can be enough to send anyone in a tailspin. We know it's not everyone's specialty. And for many, the sheer thought of it can bring jitters and high anxiety. We know this - because it can make us feel this way too!

Before we talk about the tips to help you in your next presentation - it's important to first spend time with your fear of it in the first place. That's right - lets first understand what drives your fear, so you understand the mindset you need to be in to overcome it.

The fear of presenting can come from so many places - uncertainty of how the audience will respond, uncertainty of the right medium or approach, being made fun of or saying the wrong thing. Whatever the fear is - spend some time asking yourself what drives your fear. The reason this is important is that when we talk about how to best prepare for a presentation - you can double down on the specific preparation step to help address that fear.

That now brings the question of how you can tackle presentations in a way that increases your confidence and elevates your image? We're going to walk through the 3 P's - prepare, practice and present. Seems simple enough, right? Let's break it down:

  • PREPARE: Preparation is the most important step for presenting. We can say with confidence that the "success" of any presentation relies on your approach and time spent preparing. When preparing for presentations, there are three critical steps:

  1. Discuss simple ideas and concepts. There is nothing worse than sitting through a presentation that no one understands. Your presentation idea should be simple and easy to follow. A simple tactic - ask yourself, "what are the three main messages I want my audience to walk away with?"

  2. Determine your approach. Once you determine your three most critical points you are sharing, determine what approach makes the most sense...a discussion with no materials, a PowerPoint presentation, interactive dialogue, and/or a story that tells your points? There is not necessarily one approach better than the other, but we will say that the art of storytelling is typically the most compelling way to reach a broad and diverse audience with an impact.

  3. Draft your storyboard. Once you know your concept and key messages, as well as your approach, spend sometime drafting out your storyboard. A story board can be as simple as an outline or as detailed as a script. Either way, you want to write out your content in a way that you can walk through the key messages and "how" you're discussing them. This helps you refine your words in a way that conveys your ideas simply. Simple tactic - develop your storyboard around your 3 main messages you identified for your idea!

  • PRACTICE: Practice doesn't make perfect (there is no such thing after all!), but it certainly makes you more confident. Spend time practicing your presentation alone, in front of people, in front of the mirror or with strangers! As you work through it, you can refine not only your key messages, but refine tone and pitch.

  • PRESENT: Final and most obvious step - PRESENT. As NIKE would say, just do it. You gain skills over time by just doing the thing you want skill in. The more you present, the better you become at it. The best presenters you have seen likely weren't amazing at it when they did their first presentation. The more you present and tackle those opportunities - the more you will stand out with your presentation skill. If you're serious about improving your skill - seek out candid feedback about your presentation and incorporate that feedback in your next opportunity.

Let us know what you think! How do you feel about presenting? What are your biggest challenges in presenting?

Shine On,

Jaclyn & Laura


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