8 Secrets of an Obsessive Trainer
“Public speaking makes me nervous,” Special Agent Ziva David tells her colleague Tony DiNozzo in an episode of the popular TV show NCIS.
“I’ve seen you take down armed terrorists without breaking a sweat,” he responds.
“I’m trained for that,” she replies.
Being nervous before a presentation doesn’t just apply to Special Agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. I am approaching my 25th anniversary of training professionals, and during those years I have worked with all levels of employees, from CEOs to supervisors, who dreaded making presentations. Here are some tips to help you succeed at public speaking:
1. Practice your presentation out loud. Saying the speech in your head isn’t good enough. You need to hear how the words sound.
2. Walk into the room as though you belong there. A seminar participant once said to me: “As soon as I saw you, I knew you were the instructor.” Dress appropriately for the presentation.
3. Take charge. Arrive early. If you have to travel to your location, obtain good directions and anticipate traffic. Generally, I arrive 30 to 45 minutes before the scheduled start time. When you can, make sure the room is set up the way you want. Rearrange the chairs, if necessary. Make sure the lighting is okay. You don’t want people sitting in a dark room. Anticipate the tough questions, and have answers for them.
4. Carry two copies of your slides, always. I have had a flash drive fail to work, and I’ve had clients lose my slides when I sent them ahead of time. You want to be prepared for any difficulty. I also take my own presentation tools, such as a wireless slide advancer that has a built-in flash drive, a black-screen button and a green-laser pointer. Carry with you extra batteries and an extra copy of any materials for the participants. (Yes, I am obsessive about such things.)
5. Greet people. Before the presentation, go up to people, say “Hello,” shake their hands and welcome them. This is one of those simple yet incredibly powerful things. It helps you feel in charge, and the participants feel welcomed. A woman wrote me a thank-you note and specifically mentioned how much she appreciated that I shook her hand before the presentation. She said it made her feel included. Greeting others also helps entertainers. Lesley Stahl, from television’s 60 Minutes, said after her interview with Taylor Swift: “It’s Taylor’s tireless courting of her fans that may be the key to her success. Remarkably, she spends an hour before every show, meeting and greeting and charming.”
6. Use positive self-talk. After all these years, I still say to myself before every presentation, “I can handle this; I can do this.” It mentally gets you ready.
7. Decide about caffeine. Some speakers love the jolt it gives them; others stay away from it. I drink coffee in the morning and eat a Snickers bar before an evening presentation. (Oh, that may just be my love of chocolate!)
8. Have a powerful self-introduction. It is not bragging to let the audience know why you are qualified to speak on the topic. If you are not introduced by someone else, make sure you give the audience your credentials. This can be especially helpful with difficult audiences.
The more you are trained, just like Ziva, the more confident you will become. Pachter & Associates provides presentation skills training. Please call Joyce Hoff at 856.751.6141 to schedule a seminar or coaching session.