Back in my early twenties I ran a business providing children’s creativity workshops. Some of these workshops were for kids on holiday, others were in schools, some were at local galleries and some were commissioned by Social Services for children in care. I clearly remember my very first workshop and the butterflies I felt at having to present in front of a group. In fact, I don’t think I even slept the night before. I paced up and down, drunk bucket-loads of tea, bit my nails and watched the time tick rapidly towards the dreaded moment …
It was with a bum-clenched foreboding that I entered the room. Yet the moment I started to speak, everything else fell away. The nerves went. The fear vanished. I was in The Flow.
The right words gushed out. The kids were enthusiastic and inspired. The adults were engaged. Everyone produced great art. I felt like the conductor of a vibrant creative orchestra of mindstuff and we left on a huge, buzzing high.
Since then I’ve presented different workshops to different people. One of the scariest was probably leading a group of Microsoft corporate types towards their “true life purpose”. I’m an Island girl. I don’t do big blue-chips and these guys scared the pants off me. Yet the moment I stepped up there, the Flow wrapped it’s little arms around me and everything unfolded as perfectly as perfect can get.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes The Flow doesn’t behave. Sometimes things have gone terribly wrong. But I’ve now learnt that there are vital elements to getting your presentation flowing with power, passion and gorgeousness.
1. Make your presentation a delicious feast.
Choose a topic that gets your juices flowing. If the topic is set, then find some slant that makes your subject interesting and alive. You are a creative genius! Be bold with how you illustrate your points. Mix things up. Make it different. Stories from your own life are great for getting key points across because you don’t have to memorise them – they just flow out. Also when people talk about something personal, their energy changes. They become compelling.
2. Practise then relax. Practise then relax.
It’s vital to rehearse your presentation out aloud, with any props you plan to use. Run over the various parts in your head as you drive the car. Do dummy runs with your kids at breakfast, even if they have no idea what you’re talking about. At worse, they’ll laugh. Once you have got a good handle on the sequence, create a Mind Map with the key points. Now rehearse just using this. Finally create another Mind Map with simple images to prompt your delivery.
3. Believe you can do it.
Know that you are a great presenter and have a right to be heard. Think about someone you know who can command a room, speaks with confidence and purpose. Note the attributes that make them stand out. Is it their command of language, their presence, their passion for the subject they talk about? Think about the qualities that make up these people. Do they waste their time trying to act like other presenters/speakers or are they simply being themselves, embracing and bringing forth their own unique personalities?You too have your own personality and therefore your own unique style of presenting.
See yourself standing up, presenting. Imagine yourself being the most powerful presenter you can be. You have found your own personal style, you’re being yourself and you are enjoying it! The audience are smiling. They are clapping you. How does that feel? Visualise a brilliant outcome as often as you can.
4. Don’t tell everyone how nervous you are.
And this means before and during the presentation. When you repeatedly tell yourself that you’re nervous, your feelings of nervousness will perpetuate. More fears and anxieties will creep in. Language is a powerful tool. Use it wisely. Swop “I am feeling reallllly nervous” for, “wow, I’m reallllly excited about doing this!”
5. Be passionate about your subject and enjoy sharing it.
When a presenter speaks with passion they are able to enthuse, warm and interest the audience because feeling reaches beyond the rational self – the left brain. While some people feel more comfortable dealing with facts, information and analysis, good presentations will still create just the right level of emotional involvement. Tap into your gorgeousness, allow yourself to be moved and it’s almost 100% guarenteed that your audience will be moved too.