Just about everyone who stands up in front of a room full of expectant people feels butterflies in their stomach. So what can you do to boost your confidence and give a super engaging presentation? Check out our 10 tips below from YNPN-ers on how to knock the socks off of everyone in the room.
1. Dress appropriately for the type of conference, venue, and audience. If the conference vibe is business casual, leave the three piece suit at home. Bring layers in case the room is freezing. And if you sweat a lot when you are nervous, plan for that. Wear a sleeveless business dress or a fabric that won’t stain.
2. Practice, practice, practice is so, so, so crucial. Read your presentation script aloud multiple times to build your confidence and conversational tone. Get used to hearing your voice aloud and comfortable with the content. Give your presentation to a friend or even an empty room. Great public speakers are not magic. They just practice a lot.
3. Know you are not alone. Everyone gets at least a little nervous before they present in front of a large group of people. Accept the butterflies. Lean in to the butterflies. And refer to tip #2.
4. Don't make your slides the star of the show. You are the star. No need for flashy graphics, heavy text, or a different color scheme for every slide. They should be listening to you, not trying to read the paragraph you put up on the screen.
5. Talk louder and slower than you think is natural. Remember that if you’re nervous, you may talk faster than normal. In a presentation setting, your listeners are trying to digest all of your golden nuggets of knowledge. Give them time to process by talking more slowly and taking small pauses in your presentation. This is also a good way to make sure you are breathing and allowing oxygen to continue to flow to your brain, another crucial process when standing in front of a large group of people.
6. Be interactive when possible. Pose questions to your audience and build in time for conversation, brainstorming, or small group activity.
7. Tell a personal story. You can spout all the facts and figures you want, but what people will remember is a good story. Share a personal success—or better yet—a failure you experienced related to your presentation topic. Give them a behind-the-scenes look on how that campaign really went down, what worked and what didn’t, and what you’ll do differently next time. Specifics and honesty will bring the house down!
8. Prepare for questions. People will undoubtedly ask questions, so try to think of what they might ask in advance. If that means inviting a colleague or friend to view your presentation and ask questions, do it. The Q & A is often when people learn the most, so make sure you are ready for a flourishing finish.
9. Encourage post-conference follow up with your audience members. Offer to collect business cards and send attendees your slides. This will help facilitate continued engagement and more opportunities to share resources with your peers.
10. Remember - YOU are the expert. They invited you to speak for a reason, and it's because you have something valuable to say. Power pose in the corner if you need to.
Ready to give it a shot? Submit a proposal to lead a breakout session at our upcoming conference in April! More info here.