To almost everyone who delivers them, presentations mean pressure. Time pressure, preparation pressure, content pressure, rehearsal pressure – you name it! Subliminally we all experience it, to a greater or lesser degree. The degree is more often than not related to the experience of the presenter. The real reasons are less obvious. Here’s why:
You know that you can speak, because you do so everyday, very fluently. Logically, a speech or presentation should be merely an extension of speaking. Well, it’s a lot more than that. It involves planning, preparation, rehearsal, review and logistics. And then of course, for some reason, you will want it to go well. Why?
Our desire to deliver an excellent presentation stems from our deeply held need for acceptance or belonging. We want others to like us and accept us. When delivering a presentation we are put on the spot. So the need to be accepted is amplified. In order to do it right, we misinterpret the real requirement. We believe we need to be perfect – and that is close to impossible. Hence the pressure.
The good news is that you don’t have to be perfect – nor does the audience expect it or need it. What they require is for you to have taken the trouble to structure your information in a way that it flows logically, is understandable and perhaps entertaining too. They want to get your message. “Perfect” is the furthest thing from most people’s minds – in fact they have no interest in whether you are perfect or not, nor do they care – so stop trying to be.
Rather have a conversation with them. The most important adjustment is that you project sufficiently to be clearly heard and that you stick to the golden rule – when your mouth opens your eyes must be UP – making eye contact.
Next time you attend someone else’s presentation, ask yourself if you expect the presenter to be perfect? You don’t do you? There are many reasons why they may not be perfect – perhaps they’re presenting in their 2nd language? Your own focus is likely to be to get the message loud and clear. So when you are the presenter, that’s exactly what your focus should be. To deliver your message clearly and in a manner that is easy to digest.
Perfect is not a requirement, so please take the pressure off yourself, be human and enjoy persuading the people who have honored you by coming to hear you speak.
Paul du Toit is a Certified Speaking Professional, Published Author and established authority on sales, service and presentation having delivered Mindset Shifting talks, seminars and in-depth programmes in Southern Africa and abroad, including to the Academy for Chief Executives in Great Britain. He is MD of the Congruence Group which focuses on developing human capital.
Find about Paul du Toit, CSP at his website, http://www.pauldutoit.net