A slide from my Presentation on Presenting at Up.front

I’ve really come to enjoy presenting in front of an audience. The snapshot above outlines why. After my talk recent talk at Up.front two people asked me questions:

I’m always very nervous about getting up in front of people and speaking. What can you recommend to help calm yourself down?

A great question and a common one. After I do a presentation people often compliment me on how calm I appeared. The truth is I am always nervous and anxious before presenting. My hand start to shake, my breath becomes shallow, and my butt starts to sweat. Sometimes I even start to second guess what I’m going to talk about. But I try to relax knowing: I’m excited to do this, I’ve done it before, I’m good at it, I’m here for a reason, and the audience is eager to learn something and be entertained. Also everyone in the audience knows it takes guts to present. Taking a few deep breaths helps too. 

I am in business school and have to present on certain case studies. My English is not so good, the case studies are very technical, and I am very nervous about presenting. What can you recommend?

A simple rule to start with is: slow down and keep a steady pace. It takes time for an audience to sync up with the way people speak.  If you’re presenting on something that is very factual and not very personal, see if there’s a way to enhance the content with a story or your own experience. I asked this man where he was from and said Nigeria. I said “Excellent. I bet no one in your audience will know anything about Nigeria. See if you can include knowledge about social, economic, or political facts in Nigeria that relate to details in the case study. You have first hand knowledge and people will love it.”