Why is this? Because most presenters focus so exclusively on their content that they are not able to adapt to real-world curved balls.Rather than worrying about forgetting your words, focus on ensuring that these typical ‘problem areas’ are properly managed:
Few things are more stressful than struggling to find avenue when you are the speaker. Make sure you have your route plotted out well in advance, and leave early, on the assumption that traffic will be worse than imagined. Arriving early gives you time to relax, go through notes, set up equipment and chat with the people in charge.
Very few speakers even consider this aspect of their presentation, until the convenor says, “Our next speaker is Dan, who will tell us why he’s here…” Dan then realises, too late, that he is opening on a backfoot. Prepare your own introduction and send it through by email in advance. Don’t assume, however, that this will be sufficient. Print another copy and take it with you. The introduction need only be a paragraph long, and should be printed in large letters. Also, make sure that it doesn’t sound too formal. A short, ‘friendly,’ casually worded intro works best, and makes the MC orconvenor’s job that much easier.
Most of the stress in presentations originates with equipment. You need to know in advance:
- Do they have a projector?
- Will they be using their own laptop for visual aids, or should you bring yours? If you will be using theirs, do you have your presentation saved on a flash-disk?
- Will you have time to set up in advance? This question is of paramount importance. Three out of four presentations begin with the presenter fiddling with an uncooperative computer. This places enormous stress on you just at the wrong moment.
- What type of room will you be speaking in?
- Will microphones be available? If so, what type and how many? The latter question is important if you will be interacting with an MC, as you will need to know whether there will be a ‘hand-over’ period, or whether you will simply have your own lapel microphone, ready to go whenever you are.
- If your presentation makes use of sound, particularly video clips, will they have sufficient amplification? If you face this problem regularly, it might be worth buying your own set of speakers. Make sure they are sufficiently powerful for, at least, a large room or small auditorium.
Bits ‘n Pieces
Do you have your business cards on you? People will request them. If you’re driving to the venue in an outfit other than the one you plan to wear, did you remember your cufflinks? Your tie? Your jacket? A comb? Take care of these peripherals, and you will make the experience of presenting a much less stressful one. Without the stress, you’ll be more relaxed. When you’re more relaxed, you’ll find it easier to be witty, funny, quick on the come back and irresistibly charming. Handle thebasics, and the magic falls neatly into place…!