An overwhelming majority suffers from glossophobia or the fear of public speaking. But regardless of how 5% of the world’s population might feel about it, presentations remain a permanent fixture in the world of business. You might not want to, but there will come a time when your career requires you to face an audience and share your ideas.
If you feel anxious about this prospect, there are plenty of ways to work through your nerves. There are also some signs you can watch out for. Take note of these presentation mistakes and learn the best way to avoid them:
Presentation Mistake 1: Apologizing too much
When you feel too nervous about a situation, you might start apologizing for things you think the audience finds inadequate about your presentation. The way your slides look. Why you look a bit under-dressed. A whole list of things you haven’t prepared for. While this might make you feel better, it can also hurt your credibility as a presenter. It can also bring attention to the flaws you’re trying so hard to deflect from or cover up.
Solution: You have nothing to worry about if you’re well-prepared. Your audience will form their opinions no matter what you do or don’t do. You just have to work hard to give off a positive impression. Aside from careful preparation, make an effort to practice your speech before the real deal.
Presentation Mistake 2: Avoiding eye contact
Eye contact is crucial to effective communication. The same thing goes for presentations. Eye contact plays an important role in building rapport with an audience. But when you’re feeling nervous, you tend to avoid it altogether. You’d rather look straight ahead or focus on your notecards. This could hurt your presentations significantly. You’ll seem distant, unprepared, and even unprofessional.
Solution: If you’re presenting at a business meeting, you can glance around the room and focus on the familiar faces in the audience. Seeing friendly faces will allow you to feel more at ease. Once you’re comfortable, you might even feel confident enough to make eye contact with others. If you’re presenting to a larger group, it’s better to try this trick: Instead of looking straight into someone’s eyes, look at their foreheads or the top of their cheekbones.
Presentation Mistake 3: Rambling and speaking too fast
When you’re feeling anxious, you might want to finish your presentation as soon as possible. When you suffer a mental block, you tend to ramble off tangent just to keep the presentation going. Both situations will leave your audience feeling confused. If you talk too fast and rush through your slides, your audience might not remember anything. If you ramble and go off topic, your audience will soon lose interest in what you’re saying.
Solution: Make sure you know all your key points. Study the presentation you prepared and make sure all points are clearly explained in your speech. Anytime you feel stuck during your presentation, glance up at your slides or your notes to remember what you have to say. The more you rush, the more you’ll be prone to committing mistakes. Learn to take deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed or jittery.
Plenty of people suffer from public speaking anxiety. But your nerves doesn’t have to get in the way of a successful presentation. Take note of these presentation mistakes and you’re on your way to delivering a strong message.
“Inside Glossophobia: Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking.” The Creativity Post. December 04, 2012. Accessed September 01, 2014.
Featured Image: Victor Jeg via Flickr