Nerves & Presentation Panic | 5 tips

This post has been written during two time periods, the first en route to the conference Laura and I presented at and second part post event… 

Our section on the agenda

Currently I’m sat on the train, coffee in hand, en route to Birmingham for the Institute of Internal Communications Live, annual conference. Sounds pretty relaxing doesn’t it? 
Well it would be, if Laura (my team leader) and I weren’t presenting at the event tomorrow afternoon. Possibly to around 100 people, attendance depending. I’ve got notes, post-its and my laptop all nearby attempting to make myself feel comfortable about what we’re saying.
As Laura said, the story we’re telling is one that her and I know inside out. We’re sharing our story and learnings about revamping our internal communications channel at IBM UK – we did the work, we lived it and we’ve been learning. So as far as easy presentations go (talking about yourself being the easiest) – this should be ok. Yet I find myself panicking – what if I stumble, what if I say “umm” too many times. In many respects this blog entry is actually more of a diary – the diary of a person who’s nervous to present at an event. What I’m HOPING, is that it’ll go well tomorrow and then the rest of this post will be tips and tricks that can help you if you’re in a similar pre-presentation worry. 
Let’s see eh… 
pre-presentation selfie with Laura

After 3/4 practises during Thursday afternoon/evening and one final run through on Friday morning Laura and I were ready – or so we thought? We spent the morning listening to very inspiring talks about saving people, charities and engagement videos that were uplifting across businesses in every sense – all filmed on iPads! Great – the nerves hit big time when we were mic’d up after lunch. We reviewed notes and suddenly it was 2.15pm and we hit the stage. 

I KNEW I’d be fine once I got up on stage, in fact I’d probably be more comfortable. The bonus during our session was that as Laura was speaking I had the chance to remember all my sections and more – you don’t get that when it’s just you speaking. 

Laura and I presenting

Having chatted with some of the other speakers, here’s a list of a few tips when speaking to audiences at events or even just at work…
  • Practice – even just one run through can help you focus in terms of your story. If it’s content you’re very familiar with you might think you don’t need to do this, however it might just cement that knowledge in the forefront of your mind. 
  • Avoid barriers – standing behind a lectern can actually make some people more nervous. Another presenter on the day delivered his (great) presentation from behind the lectern on stage. During lunchtime, he commented that he felt much more comfortable when he came out from behind the lectern to the front of the stage, when the audience were asking him questions. 
  • Limit your notes – if you have to take notes, try and limit them to prompting words, rather than long paragraphs you might be tempted to read from. It can be distracting for the audience, and yourself. Having a script can make you feel less comfortable speaking if you suddenly realise you’ve gone off track, rather than following the flow of your mind through the key topics.
  • Minimalistic slides – you don’t want to be one of those presenters who read from the charts, because that gets everyone thinking “well I could have read that myself”. Equally having different content on there can distract people from what else you’re saying. Keep them clean, basic and only include visuals or relevant comments that lead your audience on a journey through your story. 
  • Have fun –  enjoy your moment – the spotlight is on you so have fun & don’t forget to celebrate afterwards! 
Pink Prosecco after our presentation - celebrations

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