The first time I ever gave a presentation was during a public speaking class while attending my Master’s degree at Baruch College. I had been working for nearly 10 year but never had the opportunity to give a presentation in front of a “live” group.
I went up to the front of the room with a cup of water. I was so nervous I knew my voice would give out if I didn’t drink during the presentation. I stood up in front of the podium with my notes in hand. Before I said my first word, I took a sip of water. My hands were shaking. I spilled water all over my face and my body for that matter. The whole class laughed. I was soaked and I gave my presentation. That scene broke the ice!
Since then, I’ve given hundreds of presentations. I still get nervous but once I get started, you can’t pull me off the stage!
However, I know way too many people who are intimidated by speaking in public. That is why, when I got the opportunity to review Bill Hoogsterp’s new book, Your Perfect Presentation, I jumped at the opportunity. I love getting my friends and colleagues attention when I offer them something of value!
Interestingly, the first chapter of Your Perfect Presentation focuses on fear. Hoogsterp gives helpful tips and strategies to overcome these fears.
The book has numerous takeaways that anyone from a beginner to an experienced speaker can use. At the end of each chapter, he sums up the important points. Some of the helpful tips that Hoogsterp provided include:
- Adults have an attention span of 20 minutes;
- Make sure to connect with the audience – make eye contact, use their names, engage them in the conversation
- Tell stories;
- Be authentic and show emotion;
- Involve the audience by asking polls, questions or just have them pair up to discuss key points;
- Don’t be afraid to be different and when you open the presentation make sure to pull them in right away with a story, statistic, etc.;
- Close your presentation by asking the group to commit to something that they can do right away.
I particularly liked the section on handling a distracted audience. There will be times when you, as a speaker, feel like you’ve lost the crowd. Hoogsterp offers some of the following tips on bringing them back:
- Make eye contact
- Step toward the person who is talking or distracted and stand there
- Give the distracted person a job to do in the presentation
- Say, “can we have one conversation or we all agreed to turn off the cell phones right?”
- Finally, if none of these works, take a break and ask the person if everything is okay.
If you are a beginner presenter, this book is for you. You will get concrete examples and will be able to make your next presentation, as the author notes and will be “brilliant.”