If you are preparing a presentation, you need to learn how to structure a presentation, in order for your message and purpose to come across effortlessly as well as ensure that the audience is engaged throughout the entire presentation. Having the right structure is important.
Public speaking can be one of the most daunting experiences in life. It can be nerve-wracking to stand up in front of a group of people and talk about your ideas. It becomes even more intimidating when the group you have to present to gets bigger and bigger.
However, you don’t have to let your anxiety for public speaking holds you back from achieving your goals and following your dreams. You can take the necessary steps to overcome your fear and become a successful public speaker.
At Speak with Persuasion, we spend a lot of time focusing on who you are as a speaker, with that building on your confidence and taking away nerves. We have a lot of experience with it ourselves and have read a lot of books on the topic. In this article, we want to share some of the best books that can help you in overcoming your public speaking anxiety.
Speak With No Fear: Go from a nervous, nauseated, and sweaty speaker to an excited, energized, and passionate presenter
Author: Mike Acker
This book focuses on 7 strategies you can use in your battle to anxiety. The book gives you the understanding to develop a new and positive mindset towards public speaking. This guide to public speaking is very relatable. The book is great for those that really have a big anxiety for speaking in public. The author touches on the psychological sides of public speaking and writes very understandable.
Public Speaking Without Fear: How to Overcome Anxiety and Present with Confidence
Author: Clare Cairns
Clare Cairns, a very experienced speaker, shares her tips and inside theatrical knowledge of how to deliver a great presentation without anxiety. Clare has a great understanding of people, which shows in her writing. If you feel like you cant do it, Clare’s book will definitely help.
The short book can serve as a quick guide or a check list when preparing for an important speech or presentation. It is clearly written and has some good exercises in it.
“No Sweat Public Speaking!”: How to Develop, Practice and Deliver a Knock Your Socks Off! Presentation with – No Sweat!
Author: Fred Miller
In our training sessions we pay a lot of attention to perception of the audience. This book will show you how If you speak, people consider you to be an Expert. Perception is reality. This angle is important in the tips and tricks presented by Fred Miller.
Anyone who does any type of speaking or teaching in front of groups can benefit from this book. The book focuses a lot on the how to but with that addresses the fear of public speaking indirectly. By looking at techniques, the fear goes away.
How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking (Glassophobia): Powerful Techniques for Creating Strong Social Presence, Staying Above Social Anxiety and Building Confidence
Author: Perez Dalton
How to Overcome Fear of Public Speaking is a guide for people who want to break the chains of fear when making a speech or presentation. The book has step by step guidelines teaching you to be better and more comfortable in speaking in front of groups.
Getting instant success in public speaking: 50 Public Speaking Tips to help you start influencing your audience right away
Author: Bas van den Beld
Of course, we have to highlight our list of tips and tricks that will help you become a better speaker. In this book, you can find 50 of the best tips Bas shares with his students. Next to public speaking tips, you get tips on structuring a presentation, persuasion and handling nerves.
These tips and exercises will help you become a better speaker and conquer your anxiety at the same time.
As Hamlet said to Horatio, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
A lot of people are afraid of things like public speaking, speaking out or networking for example. They are afraid because of something called “Negative cognitive bias”.
Negative cognitive bias refers to the tendency to focus on negative or dangerous outcomes rather than rewarding ones. If you are biased toward negative outcomes, if you are looking for them, they will become true.
Most people that are afraid will recognise that they tend to talk negatively about whatever they are afraid of, even if they’re not actively involved in them. The words “public speaking” alone can make some people feel negative.
Do you recognise sentences like “I know I will fail” or “I will forget what I have to say when I’m on stage”? You are not alone.
Developing a positive mindset
To change this, you need to develop a positive mindset. That is easier said than done, but it is doable!
You can do this by reorganising the negative thinking. This is called cognitive restructuring. It means going from a negative reaction to a positive mindset.
Here’s how it works:
1. The negative talk
Create three columns on a piece of paper. In the first column, write down a list of examples of negative self-talk that you use. You could write down sentences like “I’m not a good public speaker” or “I am bad at networking” for example.
2. The positive statement
The next step involves the second column on the page. Next to your negative self-talk, write down a positive statement that can help you. For example “I can learn to speak” or “there are people that can help me with this” next to the negative sentences above.
3. Turn it around
In the third column you complete the list where you turn around all the statements. “This is a make-or-break-situation,” becomes “If it doesn’t go great, it’s only one speech” and so on.
Look at the list and you will feel better already. And keep looking at this list until you feel more confident!
This is an example from the e-mailseries on Speak with Persuasion. Sign up here or below!
When you are presenting, in pitching, on a stage or in a training session, it’s important to think about your pitch vocabulary: what words to use. There are two words you should avoid.
These are two words you are using a lot in your pitches, probably without realizing it. These two words can make you lose your pitch in an instant. Subconsciously, your audience will hear something that will make them doubt you if you use these words. What to say instead? What should be part of your pitch vocabulary? The answer is in the video!
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For some speakers building slide decks can be difficult. They spend hours crafting them. They add images, they add text and in some cases too many bullets. When they then get on stage, the presentation doesn’t work.
They don’t work, not because the speaker isn’t good, but because the slide deck isn’t working.
These speakers don’t know how to use slide decks to benefit their talks. Instead, the slide decks prevent them from doing a good talk!
These speakers often don’t understand why they have slides in the first place. With some changes however, they could make their slides work for them.
I want to point out three important elements when it comes to slides to you. If you stick by these rules, your slides will instantly become better.
You’ve only got 30 seconds to grab the attention of your audience. That’s a very short time. It means you have to do it right!
In the first 30 seconds, the audience is going to decide whether or not they will trust you. They will make up their minds in regards of like-ability, trustworthiness and whether or not you are worth their time.
This means you have to pay attention to the first 30 seconds!
The World Champion Public Speaking 2015, Mohammed Qathani, uses some smart techniques that help him capture the attention of the audience early.
In this video, we break down three steps Qathani used in his winning talk. You can use these steps to right away capture the attention of your audience.
For some, presenting is a need. For others, it’s something they love doing and want to do more. But can you make a career out of it? You sure can, I did!
If you are like me, after your first talk, you will want more. Public Speaking is addictive. The applause, the connection with the audience, the fact that you are teaching others. All these elements could be reasons why you want to pursue a speaking career.
I recently sat in a presentation with a friend of mine next to me. After the talk, I asked my friend what he thought of the presentation.
“To be honest,” he said, “I got distracted halfway through and couldn’t get back on track after. So I missed most.”
It happens to all of us. We get distracted easy. For a speaker, that means it is crucial to put elements into their presentations that will prevent that from happening.
How do you make your speech unpredictable and your audience engaged?
You want to keep your audience attention. But how? By adding in unpredictable elements to your speech. Elements that will keep your audience on their toes.
Which elements are that? Here are five.
“You all think smoking kills? Let me tell you something. Do you know that the amount of people dying from diabetes are three times as many people as dying from smoking?”
It’s how Mohammed Qahtani, 2015 World Champion Public Speaking, starts his talk ‘The Power of Words’. The statement wasn’t correct, but that wasn’t what mattered. He got what he wanted: the attention of the audience. And a chance to explain his point.
Statements and especially bold statements are a great attention grabber. You trigger people to listen to you. They want to hear how you are going to prove your statement.
Qahtani was quite extreme in his statement. You don’t have to go that far. But you can still trigger. When pitching you could, for example, say something like “We are better than Apple”.
The important part: you’ll have to prove your statement after!
A second way to get and keep the attention of your audience is to be funny. Make your audience smile and they will love you for it. Being funny is a great way to do that.
At the same time, being funny is tricky. Be careful here. Not everybody has the same humour. And you have to know the difference between being funny and telling a joke.
When it comes to being funny, timing is everything. And not too much. A funny story can help, but it has to be relatable to the topic of your talk! A good idea is to keep it personal and not insult your audience.
It is a great way to keep the attention. But as said, be careful, not everything is considered funny.
Tell a great story
We know that people are hardwired to listen to stories. When done well, telling stories is one of the most powerful tools in a presentation. A story keeps attention because people want to hear what comes next.
Telling a short story in your presentation can do wonders for the attention. What you want to do is connect the stories to the content of your talk. In other words: make it relevant.
I often use stories in my presentations. The stories can be about my kids, about anything. But I always make sure they connect to the topic of the talk.
Give them bold or surprising statistics
“According to Comscore, 25% of internet users have an ad blocker installed.”
It’s a sentence from one of my presentations. These statistics are staggering. It will make people think. “That’s a lot!” (or in some cases “that’s not much!”. Whenever I use statistics like these, I can see people look up, take pictures or write them down.
I have their attention at that point. Statistics do that. But like with the stories and fun stuff, it has to be relevant and at least a little bit bold. Telling your audience 100% of people drink water won’t help much.
Your slide design
The last way to get and keep attention is your slide design. We all know ‘death by PowerPoint’. Too many bullets will kill your presentation.
A great design will keep people focused. This can be the use of the right colours, but also usage of the right images.
Personally, I use a lot of animated gifs. These to me are like the pictures used in Harry Potter movies. They come to life.
It’s all about relevance
With all the things you can do to keep the attention, one thing is important: it has to be relevant. It has to make sense.
To conclude, I’d like to share my favourite gif to use in presentations. Here’s why I use this gif: it’s funny, it’s relevant and it tells a story. I use it to explain how we should always be looking beyond the obvious because that’s where the real gold lies.
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