It’s a question which strikes fear into many – the prospect of speaking in public, giving an interview or making a presentation causes nerves to surface in almost everyone.
And this is probably because almost everyone has been on the receiving end of a truly dreadful presentation. Who hasn’t experienced death by powerpoint, or dozed off during a monotone delivery of complicated financial predictions?
Even people accustomed to performing live in front of thousands get nervous about making a speech or a presentation – just take a look at Tom from McFly’s wedding speech to see what I mean.
Yes, you can see he’s nervous but what gets him through is preparation – there’s more than 10 minutes and a panicked list of bullet points scribbled on a beer mat gone into this speech.
So if you’re asked to make a speech or presentation how can you make it easy on yourself?
Preparation is the key. Know what your key messages are – two or three are enough. Then work out how to put your messages across.
Being well prepared will help your confidence and make sure you don’t miss out anything important. This infographic from www.skillstudio.co.uk , a company specialising in presentation skills training, is a useful checklist to work through so you cover everything you need to.
There’s a lot of truth in the saying ‘It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’. If you speak in a dull way your audience will remember your presentation as dull – if they remember it at all.
Regional accents add colour and personality to presentations, and provided you’re speaking clearly and slowly there’s no need to worry people won’t understand you. In fact, regional accents are making a comeback, according to the Daily Mail.
My own Geordie accent had the edges knocked off after living down south for 15 years but living on the west coast of Scotland means it’s creeping back.
Joey Barton received criticism for adopting a French accent when interviewed on French TV but it seems more likely he was just trying to fit in, using what experts call ‘speech accommodation’ – mimicking the accent of those present in an attempt to fit in.
So if your accent is fine what else should you consider?
Good advice is ‘Stand up, speak up and shut up’ – say what you have to say but don’t go on. If your voice doesn’t project very well can you use a microphone? It’s worth practising with one in advance – especially if it’s hand held.
Above all remember you’ve been asked to present or be interviewed because people want to hear what you have to say. So next time you’re asked to say a few words, take a deep breath, smile and say, “Of course!”