Presentation Skills – Even More Tips For Overcoming A Fear Of Public Speaking

Are you frightened of speaking in public? You’re not alone. Being nervous isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you harness it, you can have access to a pool of energy to help you perform at your best. The problem arises when you are so nervous that it inhibits your ability to function and remember what you were going to say.

In this article we look at tips for overcoming your fear of public speaking being (1) smile (2) learn from your mistakes and (3) use a visual memory technique.

Tip 1: Smile

Pull your shoulders back, breathe deeply, hold your chin up and paste a huge smile on your face. Try it now. It is impossible to feel either down or nervous while you are doing this. Hold that pose when you walk up to the podium to begin your presentation and you will feel much better. You will find that the bigger and the sillier the grin that you paste on your face, the more difficult it is to feel any negative emotion.

One of the secrets presenters learn early on is that the audience ends up in exactly the same emotional state as the presenter. So if you look like you are happy and having a good time, that is how the audience will feel too.

Tip 2: There Is No Such Thing As Failure, Just Feedback

Every presenter has made mistakes. The key is to learn from them and not repeat them in future presentations. I have:

  • Been told I speak too fast – so I slowed down the speed of my delivery.
  • Told a joke that has fallen flat. It was a joke about lawyers to an audience of lawyers – so I no longer tell jokes about a profession to the profession I am talking to.
  • Been disrespectful about someone and not realised they were in the audience – so I don’t do that anymore.
  • Been flippant and had my comment taken seriously – so I don’t do that anymore.

From each of these mistakes, I have learned and changed the way I do things to ultimately become the presenter that I am today. Some of these mistakes are things that I look back on and I feel appalled that I made them, but in my inexperience I knew no better. The whole aim of gaining experience is to make mistakes and improve.

It is unrealistic to think you can start presenting and not make mistakes. Even today after 20 years of presenting I still sometimes make a mistake. The difference now is that I can recover from them more quickly than I used to.

Tip 3: Use A Visual Memory Technique

There are visual memory techniques you can use to remember presentations. I have used them myself for presentations running as long as 3 days. When you forget where you are up to, you quickly close your eyes (to the audience it looks like a long blink), look at your visual memory stack and remember where you are up to. There are people who will teach you how to do these.

In effect it is as simple as making up a story book picture in your head about your presentation and then remembering where in the story you are up to.

I have successfully used each of these tips to help me while giving presentations. I trust they will help you too.

PowerPoint Presentations: How to Use This Tool More Effectively

Many of us use PowerPoint to convey a message to both small and large groups. Too often we see “death by powerpoint” in the corporate environment where people don’t use it effectively. Get clever when using your PowerPoint – this article has 20 tips for becoming a more engaging presenter when you use this tool.

Only use a maximum of six (6) words on each line. Too many words is too much clutter and hard for your audience to read.

Only use a maximum of six (6) lines of text on each slide. If you have too many lines of text your audience will spend their time reading your slides and not listening to you speak.

Keep slides clear and uncluttered. Avoid using many graphics or too busy with information – make your message clear.

Use animation where relevant but don’t overdo it. This feature can really highlight a key message… or distract your audience if not done correctly.

Use sound effects and movie clips to enhance your presentation. This is a great technique when it works! Be sure to test your presentation in the live environment before you show your audience. Just because it worked at home or your office… doesn’t always mean it will work when your audience appears.

Don’t talk to your Powerpoint … remember you have an audience that can read. Don’t insult the intelligence of your audience and assume they can’t read your slides. Use different words to the ones on your slides.

Keep your slides to a minimum - people want to hear your message not be distracted by too many slides. They have come to hear a real person, not an electronic presenter. Only use slides to enhance and reinforce your message.

Don’t use dark coloured backgrounds – this makes it hard to read from the back of the room. Be aware of the effects of different background colours.

Use large font only as small font is too hard to read from a distance.

Change the font size of words on the same slide to emphasize key words. Don’t make every word the same font – if you want to make words stand out, use different colours and fonts.

Don’t rely on your PowerPoint – technology can sometimes fail us – know your content and also have a hard copy of your presentation with you at all times.

Get creative with photos and images Don’t use Italic font – it is too hard to read.

Avoid using all capital letters as it is also difficult to read. In email etiquette this is seen as shouting, PowerPoint could be interpreted the same way.

Test the colours on a large screen as some may change from your laptop to the large projection.

Create a master slide – this might include your logo and in your corporate colours to reinforce your brand.

Use a remote controlled mouse or plan your movement and slide design so that you are not bound to your keyboard location.

Know how to navigate Powerpoint – in the event you press your mouse incorrectly or your system falters it is important to look like you know how to use this tool.

Learn how to insert tables, graphs, graphics and photos to enhance your presentation – rather than just using text.

Attend a course to increase your Powerpoint skills and learn creative ways to use this tool.

Don’t kill your audience with ‘death by PowerPoint’ – find creative ways to use this tool and you will become a more engaging and on-purpose presenter.

Negotiating Skills for Real Estate Professionals

Negotiating skills are crucial to dealing with every-day situations, both at work and at home. When I first became active in creative real estate, I realized my negotiating skill set was very weak and needed immediate improvement. As any seasoned, real estate professional will tell you, honing your negotiation skills is like giving yourself an immediate raise. And learning to listen effectively is one of the most important skills you can master.

Clearly the skills involved in negotiation and effective listening are close cousins. Both are vital for a successful career. Henry Kissinger, one of the United States most respected negotiators, commented that listening is the key to success at the bargaining table.

In negotiations, we often concentrate on positions rather than interests. The result is an outcome that does not extract the greatest possible value out of the process. Moreover, you may inadvertently damage an important relationship. Effective negotiation dramatically affects the perceived value of the goods or services we are buying or selling. When you’re selling, it raises the perceived value of your product or service. When buying, it can lower the perceived value. Whether buying or selling, the style of negotiation is of prime importance.

Every negotiation involves an element of conflict: Two sides must face-off before any negotiation can begin. When a high degree of concern is expressed for the substance of the negotiation and a low degree of concern is expressed for the relationship of the parties, a defeatist behaviour pattern is produced. This is characterized by pressure, intimidation, adversarial relationships and an attempt to get as much as possible as soon as possible.

Avoiding defeatist attitudes at the negotiating table is simply a matter of a little planning. Find something in the deal that is not important to you but is important for your counterpart. When things are getting sticky and about to spiral out of control, concede the unimportant element to your counterpart. Often times, this is enough to clinch the deal in your favor. It will, at least, allow you to proceed in a more constructive manner.

And while your planning, ensure you have an exit strategy. If everything goes against you, you will be saved by this little bit of contingency planning.

Improving your communication skills means not just becoming a better listener, but learning to listen to what is not being said. It is said that 90% of communication is non-verbal. If you’ve nothing to say, stay silent. Learn to emphasize or reinforce what you are saying through your body language and demeanor. Carefully watch your conterpart’s body language to gauge what they are really thinking.

As always, practice makes perfect so set some time aside with your colleagues to work through some negotiating games and training. Your negotiating skills will improve quickly if you practice when you’re not under the gun.

Last but not least, the better your negotiating skill set, the easier and more enjoyable your relationships will be. You will find that it’s easier to agree and, more importantly, to disagree with each other. Ultimately, you’ll be far better prepared to negotiate the curves that life throws your way.