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  • Mariposa Coaching

14 tips for a smooth presentation

1 Preparation

Prepare for your presentation but avoid over or under preparing. Collect ideas, decide what you are aiming for, write it, prep any notes or aids and practice it. When practicing it remember it might take longer on the day so allow extra time. Having practised it, feel comfortable with it then put it to one side the night before, get a good nights sleep if possible and the next morning give yourself time to run over it one time and then put it to one side.

2 Be enthusiastic

Enthusiasm is infectious, if you really believe in your presentation and feel enthusiastic about conveying it to your audience they will pick up on it.

3 Challenge any negative beliefs

If you have beliefs about it not being good enough - challenge them, ask yourself what is the logic for this? is it realistic? what are the facts? what is the evidence? have a think about what you like about your presentation, key messages and use more realistic thinking skills rather than going into an 'awfulising/catastrophising' thinking pattern. Note down the PITs (performance interfering thoughts) and put PETs (performance enhancing thoughts) in place that challenge these.

4 Address how your body feels

One way to stop yourself from feeling sick, tense, agitated is to try relaxation methods before and during the presentation. If your heart is beating too quickly take some breaths and try to relax your muscles. Be aware if your shoulders are up by your ears, think to yourself relax. Dress according to what will suit the occasion but also what will make you feel comfortable. If you get hot during presentations wear layers that you can take off.

5 Use coping imagery

If you are able to visualise then visualise yourself managing the presentation well, visualise yourself going systematically through your slides, see yourself managing a tricky situation such an awkward question by asking the audience or turning to your prompt cards if you have blank moment.

6 Have a piece of elastic

Plan in an extra part of your talk that is not so essential so if you run out of time then this can be the bit to ditch or if you need more to fill time you can pull this one out of the bag.

7 Caffeine/sugar

Reduce your caffeine and sugar intake - maybe alternate with caffeinated and decaffeinated drinks before a talk.

8 Dealing with adrenaline

If you are feeling really nervous and the adrenaline (fight or flight response) is kicking in then use this to your advantage, this means you care, this means you can come across as enthusiastic and full of energy if you harness this to increase your confidence. It is worth timing this, are you aware of how long the heart pumping, rushing feeling lasts? It is probably really short - a couple of minutes? In this time you can ask something to break the ice, give yourself time for your adrenaline to ease off a bit. I tend to avoid using a roller mouse or holding a drink at this point as my hands shake. I have been known to make a joke about this 'I am just waiting for the excitement of being here to fade'.

If it is a total terror of a completely new challenge then it gets more comfortable the more you do it so unfortunately you will have to come out of your comfort zone and have a go. I hope the tips in this article should help. Adrenaline and nervous tension are part of a good performance. If you ask most speakers they will say this always happens. Deep breathing can be helpful here.

9 Take your time

One of my favourite trainers shows slides and then steps back and allows the audience to have a quiet reflection. The sky will not fall in if you pause. Check in with yourself that you are giving yourself enough time to speak clearly and slowly. It always seems much slower to hear yourself than it does to the audience. Silence can be very powerful.

10 Learning style

Work out your learning style, there are many ways you can use a test on the internet or send me an email and I can point you in the right direction. Work to your strengths, you may be best at talking without aids, best at having images, like written words so cue cards are your friend, if you are more of a kinesthetic learner you may like to use a practical experiment - know what works for you and how you can make it fit a comfy style for you.

11 Know your audience

Find out beforehand what the audience's needs are, what will appeal to them. So for example with engineers I took along an experiment and asked them to solve it and related my stress management talk to an engine running. Check for any special requirements to be inclusive for all, we don't always have this information but if someone is colour blind or hard of hearing you would need to be responsive to this. What are the numbers expected? The length of your talk might depend on numbers.

12 Use your audience

Don't be afraid to ask for what the audience think, if someone else in the audience would like to answer a tricky question, to ask the audience to take part in an activity. Provide an opportunity to ask questions. Always have a get out clause, like you will find out more and get back to them if you worry about being put on the spot.

13 Know your space

Find out beforehand about your environment and the seating plan. Also check out what technology will be available, are there other offices going to be web-linked in for example? Will you be asked to use a microphone? Will you need to pack a hdmi cable, will there be IT support?

14 Evaluate!

Don't be afraid to ask your audience to complete an evaluation form, finding out what worked well and what you can improve on will make you feel like you are heading in the right direction and increase confidence.

Enhancing performance & wellbeing in personal and professional life

You can contact me via my website or email

I am a cognitive behavioural and solution focused coach specialising in performance and wellbeing.

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