Too much presentation pressure?

Many people dread giving a presentation. The reason is not hard to find; presentations require skill sets that many of us just have not built up in our day-to-day work.So we might be an expert IT person, or know everything there is to know about recruitment, say. But there’s no reason we should be any good at presentations unless we do lots of them (and sometimes, as we all know, not even then).

Unless you’re a professional presenter, you might be called upon to do just a handful of these a year – perhaps fewer. To be a great presenter might require 400 hours or so of practice. Compare that to five hours of practice a year, for example, and you’ll see that there’s a bit of a shortfall.

So occasional presenters can find themselves under a lot of pressure. There are two main ways of handling that: hate every minute of it, or try to take some of that pressure off.

In some circles, particularly academic ones, doing a presentation might involve writing a paper and reading it aloud. Nothing wrong with this, especially if it’s done engagingly and well. But many people will be tempted – or coerced – into using PowerPoint.

PowerPoint can make your presentation easier to understand, and can also help you discipline your thoughts into more logical, bite-sized chunks. But if your presentation is boring, PowerPoint won’t make it interesting. It might even make it worse if you use it as a crutch and a substitute for thought.

Here are four tips to make your presentation come alive – and lower that pressure factor.

1.  Think of the presentation from the audience’s point of view.
Would what you’re saying sound arresting, thought-provoking, exciting even? Or would it send people to sleep? One good tip is to imagine that your audience has paid to listen to your presentation. That induces a real change to your mindset that can rapidly translate into more gripping presentations.

2.  Try to make it fun.
Your audience is composed of human beings, even in the most serious of professions. Humans like stories, quirkiness, the unexpected – and lightness of touch. A little humour can go a very long way in making presentations more appealing. If you can make your audience laugh, they’re more likely to listen.

3. Rehearse your presentation.
Rehearse your presentation rather than just jumping into it, sweating and ill-prepared.
Recording yourself on audio or video will help enormously in improving your technique – and cutting out any irritating mannerisms or phrases.

4.  If possible, get feedback before you give your presentation.
Constructive opinions on your slides, visuals, enthusiasm, delivery and effective use of props, coupled with a view on how the audience reacts, can be invaluable.

If you take those ideas on board you might be surprised to find that giving PowerPoint presentations is actually fun – for both you and your audience.

And at the very least, you’ll feel a lot less pressured.

David Vickery


Published On: 20th May 2012

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  1. Thank you, this information has been very helpful to me. I have a presentational speech to write and I needed a starting place.

    Julie 26 Apr at 12:15 pm
  2. Thank you so much DAVID, This techniques really help me a lot………….

    Pinaki 10 May at 11:57 pm