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How Lecterns Are Like a Shield

Lecterns are there to aid your presentation. Depending on how you interpret that, it’s either a good or a bad thing.

Like plenty of presentation aids, lecterns are criticized for hindering the speaker’s presence.

It can be likened to a shield that protects you during your pitch.

But it can also be a cumbersome tool that ends up reducing audience engagement.

That said, how lecterns affect you depends on how you choose to use it.

Don’t make it a safety blanket. Leverage your pitch with it instead.

One of the key purposes of a lectern is to exert authority and project confidence.

It’s commonly found in commencement addresses and public speeches by politicians where formality and solemnity are required.

Lecterns let speakers distinguish themselves as a center of focus, making it easier to command respect and attention.

However, distinguishing yourself from the audience becomes the problem in a pitch that requires connecting with your listeners.

Having something that physically separates you from your prospects doesn’t leave enough space to establish your presence through body language.

Although they free your hands by holding up your notes for you, lecterns may make you too focused on your script.

This prevents you from establishing eye contact, defeating the purpose of displaying confidence.

Some presenters also tend to grip the sides of the lectern as a sign of anxiety.

Instead of doing these, use the lectern to gently rest your hands.

Occasionally look down on your notes, but don’t forget to look back up and deliver to your audience, rather than through them.

While it hides some of your presentation habits, staying behind a lectern will definitely bring to light others.

Move away from the lectern and take the spotlight.

Learn how to use this tricky presentation aid to your advantage through our SlideGenius infographic below:

Three Major Presentation Fears and How to Cope With Them

Fears related to public speaking are some of the most common phobias. Take control of these fears and make the best out of all your chances to achieve success.

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We’ve broken down three big issues that can give you jitters, along with valuable ways to stomp them out for good.

Self-Consciousness

Your greatest enemy is yourself.

Specifically, it’s your own self-consciousness. Being self-critical increases your awareness of your flaws and shortcomings. There are times that you may worry over minute details and prevent yourself from properly preparing for your speech.

Stop thinking about yourself and focus instead on your presentation’s goals and objectives. Efficient planning and detailed goal-setting fine-tune your message and guide you towards more efficient and timely preparation. You’re the best tool that can deliver your message, so always be prepared.

Inevitable Mistakes and Errors

Mistakes can’t always be avoided. They can come in the form of a stutter, a misplaced slide, tripping on a small obstacle, or forgetting parts of your speech.

The sooner you accept the inevitability of making mistakes, the sooner you’ll realize that it’s easy to redirect your fears into constructive action towards self-improvement. It’s important, however, to refrain from apologizing. Pointing out what you did wrong when others may not have noticed draws attention to the mistake and reduces your credibility.

Make a conscious effort to learn from your errors and improve to set yourself on the right track to becoming a better presenter.

Repeating Past Errors

Previous fumbles can have repercussions on an upcoming speech, especially if you’re expecting to present in front of a familiar audience. This shouldn’t stop you from doing your job.

Just because you’ve slipped before doesn’t mean you’ll do it again for no reason. Be optimistic about your current presentation, and minimize all room for error by studying past mistakes and preparing as much as possible for it.

As we’ve discussed previously, credibility is a dynamic concept. If you’ve followed and imbibed the second tip, then you’ll have improved on your past mistakes, whether they’re from your previous pitches, or just five seconds ago.

Don’t immediately look at a mistake as a lost cause. Instead, grab it as an opportunity to surprise your audience and improve your reputation as an effective and adaptable speaker. Be spontaneous and innovative. You know your presentation best, so you’ll know how to give it a spin when you’ve forgotten what you were about to say, or when you encounter technical difficulties in the middle of your speech.

Conclusion

As a highly social species, we understandably don’t wish to disappoint other people. In the professional world, a bad presentation can affect job opportunities and financial security.

The sooner you conquer your fears, the faster you get on the road to becoming a better presenter.

Need a presentation deck to give you an edge? Check out our portfolio for inspiration, or contact our slide design experts for a free quote.

 

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References

Overcome Fear of Public Speaking.” anxietycoach. Accessed July 14, 2015.
Presentation Tips: 5 Easy Ways to Establish Your Credibility.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2014. Accessed July 14, 2015.

 

Featured Image: “A leaning child’s view through a skyscraper’s window and glass floor.” from Wikimedia

Top 5 Presentation Fears and How to Overcome Them

For a majority of Americans, a true horror story doesn’t involve the dead coming back to life. What really scares 76% of the population is far simpler. It’s a situation that regularly occurs in the world of business. In this scenario, there are no zombies or vampires. There’s only an empty stage with an audience looking on.

In lists ranking people’s phobias, the fear of public speaking constantly appears on top. It even outranks the fear of death, which usually appears at number two. Isn’t it odd that we find the idea of facing an audience even more daunting than death? Jerry Seinfeld made a comic observation about it:

I read a thing that actually says that speaking in front of a crowd is considered the number one fear of the average person. I found that amazing – number two was death! That means to the average person if you have to be at a funeral, you would rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.

So what leads to this heightened response over something that is so integral to our professional lives? Why are people so anxious about sharing their ideas to an audience? What are the presentation fears we need to overcome?

Presentation Fears: What are we afraid of?

As a psychiatrist, Dr. Judith E. Pearson works to help people move past their phobias. In her sessions she discovered three major presentation fears:

  • Being the center of attention
  • Making a mistake in front of others 
  • Repeating mistakes from previous presentations 

Another public speaking coach, Gary Genard, adds a few more factors to the list. According to his experience, presentation fears stem from the following:

  • Feeling dissatisfied with one’s presentation skills
  • Comparing one’s self to other speakers 

‘Re-frame and Regain’: Overcoming presentation fears

According to Dr. Pearson, the best way to overcome your presentation fears is to approach them in a different light. We often get too involved in our fears that it soon becomes the only thing we can worry about. By re-framing the way you handle the situation, you can use your presentation fears as motivation.

Here’s how you can re-frame the 5 presentation fears listed above. Regain your confidence with the following techniques:

It’s not about you

A lot of the most common presentation fears stem from self-consciousness. If your anxiety stems from being the center of attention or how you compare to other speakers, it’s because you’re worried about how the audience perceives you. Are they scrutinizing the way you move and speak? Will they judge you if you make a mistake? Would they rather hear someone else talk about this topic? You get nervous because you worry about what they might be thinking of you.

To solve this problem, you need to stop thinking of what you might be doing wrong. Instead, you need to focus on your goals. What is your presentation about? Why are you delivering it in the first place? What do you want to accomplish by the end of it?

And just like you, the audience is there to accomplish their own goals. They want to hear the information you’re about to share. If you really want to please them, focus on delivering your core message efficiently. As Dr. Pearson puts it, “stop thinking like a victim in front of a firing squad and start thinking like someone who has something worthwhile to say to people who want to hear it.”

Mistakes are unavoidable

Presentation fears can also stem from past experiences. If a crucial misstep derailed a previous presentation, it’s normal to worry that the same thing will happen again. As Genard puts it, “public speaking anxiety is often learned behavior.” But even so, it doesn’t have to be permanent.

Accept that some situations are out of your control and mistakes are inevitable. Instead of obsessing over the mistakes you committed in the past, think of how that experience can help improve your skills.

Practice makes perfect

It might sound cliche, but the best antidote to your presentation fears is sufficient preparation. Take the time to practice your skills and prepare your presentation. Familiarize yourself with all your points and arguments. Give yourself enough time to prepare great visuals. Most importantly, practice your skills even without a presentation coming up. The more you practice, the more confident you’ll feel about facing a crowd to share your point of view.

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Featured Image: Pablo via Flickr