Writers know the feeling of a writer’s block: forced imageries, that slight and awkward change in style, words being eked out just to say that something is written. Along a similar vein, visual artists suffer the same. There’s no inspiration. No guiding hand on the canvas. No mind’s eye seeing what a piece could look like or even a little imagination for a pitch. The worst part is that a creativity block can afflict anyone, even those not particularly creative.
It’s a tough spot to get out of. You need that huge mental boost to overcome it, but maintaining it is a different matter. Even in the other end of the spectrum, people who say they aren’t creative find it hard to jumpstart their mind juices to produce something.
How do people get mentally stuck anyway? Is it because the proverbial “muse” that artists of yore wrote, painted, and sculpted about is absent? Modern science has a different answer. In a radio interview with Public Radio International, Dr. Heather Berlin, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, says, “[T]here tends to be a pattern of activation when [people] have decreased activation in a part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. And [it] has to do with your sense of self, … making sure that your behavior conforms to social norms.”
In short, when creativity sets in, people “lose [their] sense of self.” The moment they become conscious that they are without the normal bounds of work rules, they slip back in, and the former mindset is gone.
Have you ever stopped to think about the rut you’re in? In this article, business coach and trainer Mark McGuiness posits that there are seven types of creative block, and it involves more than just your mentality.
Lucky for you, there are tons of articles that give ideas on how to overcome that pesky block. The following infographic lists down habits you could start doing now to get your creative juices flowing.
McGuinness, Mark. “7 Types of Creative Block (and What to Do About Them).” 99U. n.d. www.99u.com/articles/7088/7-types-of-creative-block-and-what-to-do-about-them
Perry, Susan K. “10 Creative Block Breakers That Actually Work.” PsychologyToday. September 14, 2012. www.psychologytoday.com/blog/creating-in-flow/201209/10-creative-block-breakers-actually-work
Shockman, Elizabeth. “Creative Block? Here the Neuroscience of How to Fix That.” Public Radio International. April 5, 2016. www.pri.org/stories/2016-04-05/creative-block-here-s-neuroscience-how-fix
The way presenters design their pitches has evolved. As Microsoft PowerPoint launches new features that boast of contemporary design and high-end technology, users become more aggressive and innovative in creating their slides. Pitches have become more promising, ultimately helping businesses attain their goals.
Despite the progression, some presenters still fail to provide a visually-appealing pitch that can entice their audiences. Ugly typefaces, tacky transitions, and pixelated images continue to surface, making a presentation look horrible, or worse, unprofessional.
Fortunately, with a little imagination and research, bad presentation design choices can be improved. One can still live up to the standards of modern design through good old PowerPoint elements that have seemed to fade away over time. Challenge the world of presentation design and project an appealing PowerPoint by trying out the following design tips.
Clip Art: Tweak It
Clip art is dead. In December 2014, Microsoft retired its clip art gallery and gradually added several PowerPoint features such as Shapes, Icons, and Online Pictures. Gone are the days of cartoons in presentations as designers and presenters now prefer custom images when visualizing a point. Apart from communicating a message more clearly, the dawn of vectors and photographs allowed PowerPoint users to create a more personable and contemporary-looking deck.
Many websites offer free and editable stock images, which you can download without signing up. Modify them according to your need and make sure that they suit your presentation’s message. Wrong use of stock photography can show your lack of authenticity and creativity, and that can ruin the overall look of your presentation design.
If you are, however, keener on using objects and illustrations, PowerPoint’s Shapes and Icons are a great way to add more life to your presentation. Choose from a broad range of predesigned elements by clicking “Insert” in PowerPoint’s Home tab, which now has the “Screenshot” option as well.
Comic Sans: Imitate It
People dislike Comic Sans so much that a petition was put up to ban it. The website Comic Sans Criminal, however, explained that all fonts have a personality and a purpose and that using Comic Sans is only appropriate when:
your audience is under 11 years old;
you’re designing a comic; or
your audience is dyslexic and has stated that they prefer the typeface.
Considering its purpose, Comic Sans isn’t that bad at all. In fact, a number of educators and designers prefer its “true a” form—or an “a” with a circle and a stick—since it is known as the basic model of the letter.
If you’re looking for a “true a” as well, use Comic Sans alternatives instead. HVD Comic Serif is a close substitute if you’re in need of an easygoing, comical typeface. For corporate presentations, Hattori Hanzo Light Italic is a good pick.
Play around with fonts and typefaces to find one that suits your brand and personal style. Keep in mind that two or three choices are enough. Overdoing it may risk the aesthetic of your slides, making your content hard to read and understand.
Bullet Points: Limit Your Use
Bullet points are essential in keeping PowerPoint presentations organized. However, when used inappropriately, they can be detrimental to presentation design and its effectiveness. According to Brainshark, bullet points are ideal when updating a previous discussion or explaining simple points. Apart from allowing your audience to scan your content more easily, these symbols allow them to concentrate on other parts of your speech.
However, to quote Ray Bradbury, “Too much of anything isn’t good for anyone.” Having too many bullets in your presentation doesn’t only make your content look disorganized but also leads your audience away from your point. To deliver an impactful speech, develop a great script that you can match with bullets and attention-grabbing visuals. Maintain a balance between the two to avoid a cluttered presentation.
You can also use headlines to construct your ideas. Headlines provide a snappy feel that engages and informs your audience. Simplify your points to guarantee the attention of your audience and the success of your pitch.
Good ol’ PowerPoint design elements may not be the rave today, but they can make a comeback in your presentation through creativity and resourcefulness. Go back to the basics of presentation design and allow yourself to innovate. Use alternatives while keeping your message and audience in mind. With this, you’ll be on your way to delivering a one-of-a-kind speech that your audience will remember.
Belknap, Leslie. “Why Bullet Points Kill Presentations.” Ethos3. April 7, 2015. www.ethos3.com/2015/04/why-bullet-points-kill-presentations
Crerar, Paula. “PowerPoint Bullet Points: Do We Need Them?” Brainshark. January 24, 2012. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2012/January/powerpoint-bullet-points-do-we-need-them
Gabrielle, Bruce. “PowerPoint Clip Art Is Dead. Now What?” Speaking PPT. February 16, 2015. speakingppt.com/2015/02/16/clip-art-dead
“6 Alternatives to Comic Sans (With a True ‘A’). Keri-lee Beasley. March 14, 2015. kerileebeasley.com/2015/03/14/6-alternatives-to-comic-sans-with-a-true-a
Americans sure love independence. The biggest event in the country happens every fourth of July as a celebration of its emancipation from foreign governments. During that day, pompous fireworks displays fill the atmosphere and flag-laden parades grace the streets. If Americans can go to great lengths to commemorate their history and government, they can surely do the same to honor not only their personal freedom but also the independence attained by their small businesses.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are currently 28 million small businesses in the country, and they are all responsible for 66 percent of the new jobs created since the 1970s. This only proves how resilient small businesses are. Indeed, they are the underrated cornerstones of the U.S. economy.
Seeking Small Business Independence
More and more Americans set to establish their own businesses every year. While it’s true that owning a business has its own complications, a survey by Endurance International Group found that almost 70 percent of entrepreneurs believe that going solo is the best career decision they’ve ever made. A similar study by Yodle Small Business Sentiment came to the same conclusion. They found that nine out of ten respondents are happy with their present stations as small entrepreneurs.
Indeed, the present landscape for small businesses is at its all-time high. To quote Hari Ravichandran, the CEO and founder of Endurance, “Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and it’s encouraging to see that so many small business owners are pursuing their passion in a way that provides them the most independence.”
The Rewards to Reap
The number of people who are enticed to be more independent career-wise is growing. People are setting out to be solo entrepreneurs, and for a good reason. There are many perks you can get by being your own boss and setting your own business. Here are some of them:
Freedom to manage your business processes.
What’s great about running your own business is that you get to have full control of your time. You can choose when to start or end your day, and depending on your business model, you can even choose where to work. You have full freedom and flexibility to do as you please, as long as you take into consideration the best interests of your business.
Balance between work and personal lives.
When you are your own boss, you have the power to work in your own terms. It’s easier to strike a balance between your work and personal lives because you can decide where the horizon ends. The aforementioned Yodle study revealed that 50 percent of small business owners enjoy a decent work-life balance, 52 percent work a maximum of 40 hours a week, and almost 72 percent take at least two weeks of vacation each year. Not a bad deal, right?
More time to pursue your other passions.
If your business doesn’t bind you to a certain timeframe, you’ll have more time to realize your other dreams. This is why most small business owners join the game in the first place—they want to be independent so that they can have more time to do the things they actually love.
Opportunity to challenge the status quo.
By venturing into small business independence, you can expand your network and meet other forward-thinking entrepreneurs. As such, you’ll have more people with you to challenge the status quo and ultimately change the small business atmosphere for the better.
Full control of your business growth.
When you go solo, you’ll have no one to rely on for advancing your interests, so it’s up to you to map your own path. The future of your business is in your hands—your own strategies will determine how long you’ll stay in the game.
The Prices to Pay
Small business independence may be good in its own right, but it’s still far from perfect. To become an effective small business owner, you have to live and embody your business every day. Sometimes, you need to make sacrifices to stay in the game. Below are some of the downsides of running your own business:
Absolute financial commitment.
Sometimes, when you’re still starting out, you won’t have enough investors to back you up, so you have no choice but shell out some of your own personal money. Also, when times are tough and the economy is at a low point, you’ll have no one to rely on for financial support, so be ready to break the bank a few times. But don’t worry—it’s all part of the deal. When you do things right, everything will fall into place and all of this will be nothing but the phase you have to go through before attaining growth and expansion.
Missing the fine line between work and life.
The thing about attaining small business independence is that you can’t always predict how things will turn out. Yes, you can have full control over most of your business processes, but it’s also precisely for that reason that you can’t tell whether work-life balance is something that you can have easily or have to fight hard for.
More saturated business landscape.
It’s hard to break through in the small business scene when you have a lot of competitors in the field. Couple this with financial insecurity and work-life imbalance, and you’ll have in your hands more challenges in the future. This is why building a business is not for the weak-willed.
Remember that this fourth of July, you have more than one type of independence to celebrate. If there’s a good time to acknowledge the importance of small business independence, it is on the same day that the country celebrates its political freedom. Make sure to pay tribute to small businesses worldwide because they are the true unsung heroes of the American economy.
Beesley, Caron. “Why Owning a Small Business Is the Best Independence There Is.” Fundbox. July 1, 2015. fundbox.com/blog/why-owning-a-small-business-is-the-best-independence-there-is
Hoagland-Smith, Leanne. “Small Business Owners Drawn to Independence.” Chicago Tribune. July 4, 2016. www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/opinion/ct-ptb-hoagland-smith-column-st-0706-20150704-story.html
Tarr, Simon. “Independents’ Day: A Time to Celebrate Local Businesses.” The Guardian. July 3, 2015. www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2015/jul/03/independents-day-celebrate-local-small-business
“Survey: Small Business Owners Thrive on Independence.” PR Newswire. June 30, 2016. www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-small-business-owners-thrive-on-independence-300292587.html
“Small Business Profile.” U.S. Small Business Administration. n.d. www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/United_States.pdf
In today’s technological age, it’s impractical and unwise to confine a presentation to the four corners of a room. Whether you like it or not, the majority of your audience can now be found in digital nooks, where their attention is constantly being fought over by brands. If you haven’t explored this platform yet, chances are your competitors have already beat you to it. But not to worry, it’s not too late to set things right and keep abreast of the latest developments in the presentation industry.
Before you close the door to the digital option, hear this out first. Moving your presentation online presents a number of benefits, which ultimately enable you to become more productive, more practical, and more popular. Specifically, the following are the top three gains you can expect by simply going digital.
1. Maximize your audience reach
As a beginner, perhaps the most pressing issue you have in mind is, “Where do I start?” The good thing about the online platform is that it has many entry points. You can start by promoting your presentation on social media or by building a website that showcases your content. There is no one starting point. Instead, you have to find what works for you. The key here is to build trust among your audience and familiarity among your colleagues. Once you have considerable experience, you can begin participating in trend shows and attending global conferences, but until then, you have to start somewhere.
Assuming that you’re still a budding speaker exploring the digital field for the first time, the easiest and most practical route for you is through social media. After all, more than half of internet users nowadays have five social media accounts on average. Facebook alone has more than 1.7 billion monthly active users, according to Statista. This social media giant is a market leader not only in terms of reach but in scope as well.
There are many ways to share PowerPoint presentations on social media, including turning a deck into a video presentation or a gallery of slides. As long as you do it right, you can’t possibly fail. Indeed, it pays to know what works and what doesn’t. When choosing platforms, make sure to consider the number of users, reach, scope, and compatibility with presentation documents.
2. Make your content accessible
If you want your presentation to stand the test of time and survive your audience’s memory, there’s only one way to go: DIGITAL. After every presentation, make it a point to upload your main ideas online so that your audience and other business prospects can have better access to your content.
Also, when uploading a copy of your presentation, make sure to leave notes where they’re warranted so that readers can better understand the hard parts. As much as possible, include additional sections like Notes and Appendices, where you can clarify and expound on important points. By going the extra mile with your online presentation, you’re showing your target audience and potential clients that you’re serious in promulgating your message. This will draw them closer to you and take you more seriously.
3. Connect with more audience prospects
Expanding to the digital platform is not only a way for you to reach your target audience but also expand your market and widen your reach. Since a good number of your audience are already online, your chances of forging new connections are higher. As long as you have good and accessible content, you’ll have no problem gathering a loyal following.
Indeed, it pays to be open to different methods of reaching out to people, regardless if they are your target audience or not. Going online welcomes new opportunities to grow your brand as a presenter.
Establishing an online presence can go a long way to making your brand known to the world. The online realm makes it more possible to reach your target audience as well as other business prospects. The business industry is getting more competitive day by day. This is why it would only be wise for you to explore every possible opportunity to expand your reach. It would certainly take time for you to get used to new changes, but with dedication, you’ll be able to see your hard work pay off.
Finkelstein, Ellen. “Why You Need to Get Your Presentations on the Internet—And How.” Ellen Finkelstein. June 19, 2011. www.ellenfinkelstein.com/pptblog/why-you-need-to-get-your-presentations-on-the-internet-and-how
Knight, Stormy. “20 Reasons to Put Your Business on the Web.” Net 101. n.d. www.net101.com/20-reasons-to-put-your-business-on-the-web
Mander, Jason. “Internet Users Have Average of 5.54 Social Media Accounts.” Global Web Index. January 23, 2015. blog.globalwebindex.net/chart-of-the-day/internet-users-have-average-of-5-54-social-media-accounts
“How to Share a PowerPoint Presentation Online.” iSpring. June 5, 2015. www.ispringsolutions.com/blog/how-to-share-a-powerpoint-presentation-online
“Most Famous Social Network Sites Worldwide as of April 2017, Ranked by Number of Active Users.” Statista. n.d. www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users
“Number of Internet Users Worldwide from 2005 to 2016.” Statista. n.d. www.statista.com/statistics/273018/number-of-internet-users-worldwide
“Number of Social Media Users Worldwide from 2010 to 2020.” Statista. n.d. www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users
Since time immemorial, humans have taken to the stage so that they could be seen and speak their hearts out. With each word, they captivate and mesmerize people. With every breath, these speakers commanded the language like no other, making crowds stay and listen, and even wanting for more.
It’s not like history has a shortage of outstanding public speakers. Those who have rhetoric skills, who have etched their names in eternity, along with the long list of heroes, villains, sinners, and saints, are remembered long after their time, immortalized by their craft in history books and the Internet. From legendary Roman spokesperson Cicero and Greek general Pericles to author Susan Cain and former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the world has seen its fair share of public speakers who can dominate the stage and fascinate their audiences with their piece or with whatever they present.
But what a public speaker so endearing? How do they command the charisma that inspires listeners to their cause? Is there a trick to their success? Are they magic? Through simple inspection, the most obvious commonality among them all is their ability to move the emotions and opinions of their audiences.
Today’s age doesn’t have much of the oratory events that the ancient times had; the closest in modernity, and arguably the biggest, is the annual TED Talks. Apart from the leap in technological levels and different preparatory techniques, though, is there any other difference between then and now in terms of oration?
If anything, what’s most intriguing are the speakers. From then up to now, time has tried and successfully proven that the very attributes that made names like Cicero, Pericles, and Demosthenes legendary are the very same benchmarks of a great public speaker today. In short, when you exhibit and emulate the following traits, then you can be one of the greats of this era. What are those characteristics? The following infographic will fill you in.
Inzunza, Victor. “History’s Greatest Speakers and Their Greatest Speeches.” Pencils.com. December 3, 2012. www.pencils.com/historys-greatest-speeches
Look around you. You’re bound to see a picture or ten. It’s amazing how images have permeated the collective mind. But in hindsight, they have always had the power to do so. Historically, cave paintings served as the first method of documentation. Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics were mostly drawn or carved. One could even say that everything you see is an image, scientifically speaking.
With that much influence, it’s no wonder that pictures have spread far and deep into the collective subconscious. So much that it became the driving force for the invention of the camera, making portraits easier to create and, after many technological advances over the decades, instant.
In that same vein, photographs became available online, including stock images. But the term has been met with both positive and negative reactions. There are arguments from both sides saying that stock photography is cheap—if not downright free—but that, legally, you’re better off using originals.
Where do you side in the argument? Presentation design-wise, you’re better off not using stock photography for your deck and instead creating your own that fit your or a presentation agency’s design—a.k.a. the perfect images for your slides. Here are reasons why.
Lack of Authenticity and Creativity
There’s no greater show of designer laziness than using stock images. Why? Because it’s already available online. You can get one with just a few clicks. Never mind using your own resources for that photoshoot (which doesn’t have to be grand to begin with).
Using stock images is the easy way out. There’s a certain lack of creativity that stock images display because all it takes is a “yes or no” choice: does it portray what I want? Instead of getting specifically what you’re looking for, you settle for another since it’s ripe for the taking. While there are alternatives, like your own shoot, it won’t be as easy as just downloading one.
It doesn’t help, too, that stock images are easily obtainable from the Internet. What are the chances that you’re the only one using a particular photo? Zero. It’s bound to show up in places you wouldn’t expect, which leads to …
You know how the first time you hear a funny joke, you can’t stop laughing? Then it gets repeated over and over, and it isn’t humorous to you anymore? It’s the same with stock images. The more your audience has seen a photo you used on your presentation design, any hope of impact you intended is gone.
It’s because they’re already familiar with—if not outright expecting—it. That they have seen the exact photo, if not the same actions, connotations, and justifications elsewhere, should always be a consideration. This is especially true when even in your search, there were dozens of images like the one you chose. “Familiarity breeds contempt,” goes the adage.
What’s an alternative then? If you must use stock images, then be unpredictable. If you’re looking for a picture of a business meeting, then don’t choose common ones, like room full of executives. Try a coffee shop meeting or a team building to show something new and fresh. If you can’t find one, then why not shoot your own or even choose one from your albums? How about that for a new take on the term “stock photography”?
Presentation design revolves around a theme, often the brand or topic. When you’re designing images, you keep said motif in mind, wanting to adhere to it and keep the whole deck consistent.
There isn’t much wiggle room for this, however, when your pool is piled with stock images. You have no control over the art direction of the image you have chosen since it’s just there, and how you use it becomes the question. This may present problems, but of course, if you’re really persistent, you can find one you can settle on. But even then, it still feels out of place.
There’s also what may be construed as “forced imagery,” wherein a picture barely symbolizes or depicts the topic at hand but is instead accompanied by lengthy justifications at how it’s really illustrating the point. Not only does this need a contrived explanation, but it also denotes poor planning on your part.
Stock images are readily available, but just because you can download them doesn’t mean you should. It’s not like there aren’t better alternatives out there; it’s merely the easiest way out. And if you think that won’t cost you anything, think again.
As a legal matter, there are many loopholes and gray areas on creative commons and copyrights. When it’s that open-ended and indefinite, you can bet that there are people who can and will make some money out of it by suing you or others for using their photos for unintended reasons, like commercial purposes.
Would you rather risk that possibility or take delight in the pleasure and satisfaction that your image is your own? You help not only yourself by minimizing complications from external parties but also your presentation design by being specific with your choice. That can make the biggest impact of all.
Boag, Paul. “Stop Using Stock Photography Clichés.” Boag World. January 4, 2010. www.boagworld.com/design/stock-photography
Field, Dennis. “8 Tips on Choosing the Right Photos for Your Design.” InvisionApp.com. March 11, 2015. www.invisionapp.com/blog/8-tips-on-choosing-the-right-photos-for-your-design
Reynolds, Garr. “What Makes an Image Good for Presentations – Part I.” PowerPoint Ninja. n.d. www.powerpointninja.com/graphics/what-makes-an-image-good-for-presentations-part-i
Reynolds, Garr. “What Makes an Image Good for Presentations – Part II.” PowerPoint Ninja. n.d. www.powerpointninja.com/graphics/what-makes-an-image-good-for-presentations-part-ii
Struck, Amos. “What Are Stock Images? One of the Best Image Resources Explained.” Stock Photo Secrets. n.d. www.stockphotosecrets.com/questions-answers/what-are-stock-images.html
Suggett, Paul. “The Case for and Against Stock Photography.” The Balance. October 12, 2016. www.thebalance.com/the-case-for-and-against-stock-photography-38444
Walker, Tommy. “Stock Photography vs. Real Photos: Can’t We Use Both?” ConversionXL. n.d. www.conversionxl.com/stock-photography-vs-real-photos-cant-use
Every industry has its own set of jargons—even design. While having a so-called “eye for design” can help you go a long way, it’s not enough to cut the mustard. There are still some basic principles to follow and adhere to in order to achieve a certain credibility in the field. Before you can become a master of design, there are fundamental principles that you need to learn first. Design is as much a skill as a raw talent, after all.
You may be a natural artist who simply has a knack for creativity, but sometimes, that’s not enough, especially if the industry you’re trying to permeate is graphic design. There are conventions in this industry that you need to study in order to create useful and valuable artworks. Don’t get this wrong—you can certainly start random projects and find an audience for it afterwards. But if you want to become a prominent figure in the competitive design market, you need to study the game first to be one of the best.
The Importance of Design Elements
Art cannot exist without the pieces that comprise it, whether they be simple or otherwise. What lend a work of art an identity are the different elements that bring it to life. Those same elements set a convention through which a design enthusiast can appreciate or judge the beauty of an art form.
Another reason why the different elements of design are important is that they form a system around which the language of design revolve. Without these, art appreciation cannot be possible. To illustrate, imagine being asked to assess a work of art. If you don’t understand how design elements work, you’d be limited to making vague observations. However, if you’re well-spoken in this department, you’ll be able to express exactly which aspects of the design works or not.
The elements of design are important in so many levels. That’s why every designer and design enthusiast should strive to master them.
Copperman, Amy. “8 Basic Principles of Design to Help You Create Awesome Graphics.” Adobe Spark. July 27, 2016. spark.adobe.com/blog/2016/07/27/8-basic-design-principles-to-help-you-create-better-graphics
Hortin, Anthony. “The 5 Basic Principles of Design.” Maddison Designs. March 27, 2009. maddisondesigns.com/2009/03/the-5-basic-principles-of-design
Taheri, Maryam. “10 Basic Elements of Design.” Creative Market. May 27, 2016. creativemarket.com/blog/10-basic-elements-of-design
Wong, Yoon Sann. “Graphic Designers: Cheat Sheets That Simplify Design Elements, Print Terms, More.” Design Taxi. September 2, 2016. designtaxi.com/news/388239/Graphic-Designers-Cheat-Sheets-That-Simplify-Design-Elements-Print-Terms-More
Giving a presentation doesn’t always come naturally, especially when standing in front of a crowd isn’t your forte. It’s a skill that takes time to learn and perform just like singing or acting.
As much as you practice, though, one thing can derail you: stage fright. It’s a whole different experience when you’re rehearsing in a confined and controlled environment compared to when standing in front of a crowd.
Fear is inevitable. It is the usual initial feeling people have when they’re aware that something bad can happen. However, most find themselves harboring and being crippled by that possibility for a long time. Ever heard of Murphy’s Law?
You don’t have to experience the same fate. As long as you know how to avoid or fight it—and improve despite of and because of it—you won’t ever have to deal with bothersome stage frights.
Finding a Cure to Presentation Anxiety
Fighting off anxiety can be challenging. You never know when it will come and attack you. When it affects you, you feel weak, not knowing when it will go away. But fear isn’t a physical barrier. In fact, it‘s all in your head. You created it, and you can eliminate it.
Anxiety occurs when you anticipate a bad event. It’s normal to feel anxious when you’re in a stressful situation. And it grows when you keep believing it’s true. The only way to destroy it is by understanding that it’s all in your mind and becoming proactive on it.
Ask yourself the following questions: “What am I being anxious about?” “Where did it come from?” “Is now the time to think about it?” “Will it help me deliver my presentation?” Rationalizing points out the weight of your problem and its urgency. Breaking down your worries and your responsibilities helps you decide how to move along on your work. Instead of entertaining that fear, rehearse your pitch in your head. Your anxiety will be addressed by focusing on the task at hand. Stay on track and don’t let your mind wander off. Mentally pushing the nuisance to the far end of the room will make it leave.
Preventing Stage Fright Successfully
There are many reasons why presenters experience anxiety before and during a presentation. Apart from anticipating a faulty performance, procrastination, laziness, and carelessness are the other elements that trigger it. . Sometimes, the reason why you anticipate mistakes is because you know they are consequences of something you did wrong in the past. Maybe there’s a gap in your presentation that you deliberately neglected or maybe you can’t help but think about the practices you should have not missed. These simple yet reoccurring things can make you feel anxious on your big presentation day.
Crafting a great presentation takes much research and preparation. Being able to come up with great research takes a lot of effort and time. And on top of all that hard work, it also takes a lot of practice to make sure you feel ready to present your deck.
When you care to invest that much to prepare your pitch, consequences that make you anxious won’t get in the way. Instead, you gain confidence and feel empowered enough to present your pitch with your head held high.
Prepare, Present, and Prosper.
There’s no way of telling what’s going to happen next. Why waste time being fearful of outcomes you’re not even sure will happen? If you place fear in the present, you’ll see that it has no business being there. Your presentation should be the only thing on your mind when you walk onstage. The dialogue between you and your audience is your priority. Focus so that nothing can change the way you planned to deliver your pitch.
Remember that prevention is better than cure. Make time to prepare your deck and rehearse your performance. Learn how to present your deck better than the last time. Nobody becomes a public speaking expert overnight. Plan your slides carefully and practice your lines.
Lastly, don’t fear judgement or fill your mind with worry. You have the power to stop self-sabotaging thoughts.
Bellamy, Wallace J. “Fear… It’s All in Your Head.” DrBellamyDMD.com. July 12, 2016. www.drbellamydmd.com/patient-education/fear-its-all-in-your-head
Esposito, Janet. “Conquering Stage Fright.” Anxiety and Depression Society of America. n.d. www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/social-anxiety-disorder/treatment/conquering-stage-fright
Maina, Antony. “16 Ways to Overcome Stage Fright When Speaking in Public.” Small Business Trends. October 6, 2015. www.smallbiztrends.com/2015/10/overcome-stage-fright-speaking-in-public.html
Purtill, Corinne. “Murphy’s Law Is Totally Misunderstood and Is in Fact a Call to Excellence.” Quartz. May 16, 2017. www.qz.com/984181/murphys-law-is-totally-misunderstood-and-is-in-fact-a-call-to-excellence
Reynolds, Garr. “Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery,” 2nd ed. Berkeley, CA: New Riders. 2012.
“Managing Presentation Nerves: Coping with the Fear Within.” Mind Tools. n.d. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/PresentationNerves.htm
Engaging into a question and answer session with the audience is the best way for you to get feedback. Being offered their opinion about how you did and how well the whole talk was makes your presentation more engaging and further clarifies the points you’ve made. Additionally, it gives you insights on how you can make better presentations in the future.
You won’t be able to cover every detail during your business presentation, so it’s important to always anticipate questions beforehand. While the three following queries seem simple enough on their own, don’t underestimate your audience’s ability to catch you off guard. It’s a good idea to be prepared for any variation of…
Question #1: What do you do?
The beginning of your deck should include an introduction that contains your contact details and a brief primer of your company. But this kind of information isn’t enough for the audience to know what your business is all about.
Your deck should cover every possible aspect of the purpose, service, and benefit that you provide while avoiding delays caused by an overly detailed discussion. If you have to reexplain your introduction towards the end of your business presentation, don’t just assume that the audience didn’t pay enough attention.
This type of question could mean that you didn’t spend enough time to explain your purpose or that your audience simply wants to know more details. Especially with the latter, that tells of their curiosity. Aren’t you glad they’re interested?
Question #2: What’s your product?
There are several ways to phrase this question: “How does this product benefit your prospects?” “How useful is it?” “Is it worth the investment?” In other words, why should they choose you?
You should be able to answer all those questions and provide concrete reasons to support your claims. Going into detail with this particular question in mind is good since this means that your audience is curious about your brand. This is a way for you to slowly build up their trust. Knowing your product well adds to your credibility.
Seal the deal by convincing your prospects that your offer is worth their time and resources.
Question #3: How long does it take?
This type of question asks for specificity. It shows that the audience is thinking, “How soon will I start seeing results?”
Provide a financial projection that gives a realistic assessment of your project. Tell them when they can expect to see the results and only promise what you can deliver on time and on a realistic budget.
Scott Gerber, entrepreneur and angel investor, learned the hard way from being rejected by investors for his company. One of the most important lessons he learned was that venture capitalists that have seen it all can gauge the feasibility of your plans, so be realistic and avoid aiming for a multimillion investment without the experience to back it up.
You’ll know how eager your audience is when you hear them ask about your project timetable. Being asked this at the end of your business presentation usually means you’ve generated enough interest that’ll soon translate to sales.
Keep your answers short and concise since you’re nearing the end of your presentation. Concise answers are easier to remember and will help end your presentation on time.
The responses you receive will help gauge your own persuasiveness as a speaker. So don’t be content with a silent response. Get the ball going by answering some of these questions by reiterating your main points.
The success of your pitch depends on how well you respond to these FAQs. Don’t let the simplicity of these questions fool you; prepare how to answer them beforehand.
Gerber, Scott. “6 Steps to the Perfect Pitch.” Entrepreneur. May 21, 2009. www.entrepreneur.com/article/201826
Greene, Charles. “Presentation Skills: 5 Tips to Improve Your Q&A.” CharlesGreene.com. August 27, 2012. www.charlesgreene.com/2012/08/5-tips-to-improve-your-qa-sessions
Pivovarov, Artur. “Presentation Skills. Unit 8: Dealing with Questions.” SlideShare. May 1, 2012. www.slideshare.net/ArturPivovarov/unit-8-12763217
“Conducting a Q&A Session.” Boundless. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/delivering-the-speech-12/managing-q-a-68/conducting-a-q-a-session-268-4213
As a presenter taking the limelight, you shouldn’t expect the audience to give you their full attention outright. You have to understand that they have other stuff going on in their lives. You can’t force them to listen, but you can try to win their time and attention. One way to earn your place in the spotlight is to prepare for your presentation beforehand. Polish your content and decide on the best style of delivery. Make sure the method you choose is good enough to intrigue the audience and keep them hooked until the last slide.
Preparation is key to every presentation, but it’d be foolish to suppose even for a second that it’s enough to cover all the variables. No matter how much you prepare, you can’t predict what will happen onstage. You may have a brilliant content and a killer pitch deck but still have no one paying attention to you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re a bad presenter, and it surely doesn’t mean that the people in front of you are rude. Sometimes, it simply means that your efforts and methods are not enough to draw the audience away from their other more important priorities.
So, what do you do? Should you just ignore your listeners’ indifference and rush through the presentation to get it all over with? No. The worst thing that can happen in a presentation is not for the audience to lose interest. The worst thing is for the presenter to give up trying to bring the audience back into the moment.
A responsible presenter reads the warning signs that may indicate that the audience is falling behind. The signs can be subtle or obvious: yawning, chattering, slouching, standing to leave the room, staring blankly into space, refusing to return eye contact, and fiddling with gadgets, among others. A seasoned presenter can detect these tell-tale signs spot on.
Pulling the Audience Back into the Moment
When you see the abovementioned signs, you can’t just go on with whatever you’re doing. The fact that nobody’s paying attention to you anymore should nudge you into doing something different. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting everybody’s time. When you’re about to lose your audience’s attention, hit the reset button and start over again. Here are some of the things you can do:
1. Pause, reflect, and regroup
When everything seems to crash and burn, stop where you are. Obviously, nothing of what you’re planning to say or do next can make the audience care about your presentation. So, before you make any more mistakes, just stop and reflect on when and how you lost them. What did you do wrong? Why did they remain impassive when you said something that was supposed to intrigue them? Think of how you can shake things up, and figure out the best way to go from there. Sometimes, it’s better to improvise than go with something that is evidently not working out.
2. Inject stories into your presentation
Maybe the reason they are shutting you down is that you’re shoving hard data down their throats. Even technical professionals can get tired of numbers and figures when they’re presented blandly. Instead of sticking to one type of content that is sure to bore the crowd, share personal stories and anecdotes that shine a new light into your topic. People are hardwired to listen to stories because they’re engaging and undemanding. If you can share an interesting story that is relevant to the subject, you can pull the audience out of their trance and draw them back into your presentation.
3. Use humor to liven up the mood
This isn’t to say that you have to make the room shake with laughter. A small chuckle or a subtle smile should do the trick. Use humor to get into your audience’s good side and lighten the mood in the room. Just remember to keep your relevant to the presentation.
4. Break the pattern you’re in
People pay attention to any kind of change, so make sure to make your presentation as diverse and sundry as possible. Use transitional devices to prompt the audience that you’re shifting to another type of content. This will help them refocus and gradually get back on track.
5. Shift the limelight to the audience
A presentation should ideally be a dialogue rather than a monologue. It should be a two-way conversation that the audience can participate in. So, when you get the chance, turn the tables and give the audience an opportunity to talk. You can do this by engaging them in a Q & A session where you can take feedback and gauge how interested they are. It’s also an opportunity for your listeners to clarify things they might have missed.
6. Take small breaks after sections
People can only take in too much information. That’s why you need to give your audience a break every now and then. Microbreaks can leave them reinvigorated as they take refreshments and relieve themselves in the restroom. When they return to their seats, they will have enough energy to refocus into your presentation.
7. Check your body language
Maybe your stage presence (or lack of) is what leaves the audience inert. Maybe you’re not connecting with them enough through body language. Check your stance, gestures, and facial expressions. Make sure that you convey authority and confidence without coming off as arrogant and overbearing. Projecting the right body language can help you bring back their attention and save your presentation.
One thing you have to remember to avoid losing your audience is to make the presentation less about you and more about them. Everything you do should cater to their interests so that they will not be tempted to attend to other things while you’re up there onstage presenting valuable information.
Biesenbach, Rob. “What You Can Do When Your Audience Tunes Out.” Fripp. n.d. www.fripp.com/what-you-can-do-when-your-audience-tunes-out
Davis, Keith. “How to Use Humor in Your Speeches and Presentations.” Easy Public Speaking. May 20, 2010. easypublicspeaking.co.uk/public-speaking-humour
Frenzel, Leif. “How to Avoid Losing the Audience in a Technical Talk.” Code Affine. February 26, 2015. www.codeaffine.com/2015/02/26/how-to-keep-audience-attention-during-presentation
Mac, Dave. “Do You Recognize the Five Early Warning Signs of a Bored Audience?” n.d. www.presentationblogger.com/do-you-recognize-the-5-early-warnings-signs-of-a-bored-audience
Mitchell, Olivia. “What to Do When You’re Losing Your Audience.” Speaking About Presenting. n.d. www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/audience/losing-audience
Somlai, Fisher. “The Deck Is a Dialogue: Three Steps to Conversational Presenting.” Business. February 22, 2017. www.business.com/articles/the-deck-is-a-dialogue-3-steps-to-conversational-presenting
“What to Do When You’re Losing Your Audience.” The Total Communicator. n.d. totalcommunicator.com/vol2_2/losingaudience.html