Slidegenius, Inc.

How to Bounce Back from a Presentation Meltdown

This is a guest post from Kalibrr.com.

Imagine yourself in front of a crowded room. The lights turn down low so that only the stage and projector screen are in focus. You hear murmurs and whispers from the audience, patiently waiting for the next speaker to talk about the importance of building your network. They’re waiting for you.

Your hands start to sweat. The room suddenly feels warm even if you’re already in front of the AC, and the index cards (a.k.a. cheat sheets) you’re holding are starting to moisten at the sides. You prepared for this talk all your life — well, maybe just for a couple of days — but the experiences you’ve gathered since the start of your career make up for it.

This is a common problem whenever you’re about to do a presentation: anxiety. But when you can’t tame that anxiety, guess what will happen?

You’ll freeze up. You’ll experience mental block. And, worst of all, you’ll have it right in the middle of your presentation, just as you’re about to make an important point.

There’s a secret weapon you could use to bounce back:

ABSORB.

It’s not just a word or an acronym. It’s a process conceptualized by Terry Gault, Vice President of the Henderson Group, an investment management company.

Let’s see how these six letters can keep us grounded:

A – Aware

1-ABSORB-Aware

First things first: be aware that something’s gone wrong. You’re in an awkward situation, so don’t panic. If you do, you end up choking, and embarrassing yourself in front of your audience even more. Instead, what you should do is to…

B – Breathe

2-ABSORB-Breathe

Panicking can make you forget to breathe, or start breathing too fast. In fact, worried pacing or shallow breathing contributes to more panic. Calm down and breathe slowly. Take two deep breaths, and smile so you won’t look too tense. Remember: the mind needs a good supply of oxygen to function well.

S – Stillness and Silence

3-ABSORB-Stillness-Silence

It’s best not to tell your audience that something has happened, or that you forgot what to say. Instead, keep quiet, and again, keep calm. Silence creates anticipation and lets your audience absorb information you presented. That should buy you a couple of seconds to…

O – (Consider Your) Options

4-ABSORB-Consider-Options

What are your best possible options to casually get back on track?

Should you skip the slide? Should you make a joke? Should you scan through your notes?

Our advice: scan through your cheat sheets without looking like a total fool for forgetting. Casually walk towards where you placed your notes (and, hopefully, a glass of water), take a sip of water while scanning through them, then put down the glass and scan again.

R – Respond

5-ABSORB-Respond

If you’ve figured out what to do, act on it quickly but casually. Talk slowly after a few seconds of awkward silence just so your audience could also get back on track with you.

B – Breathe again

6-ABSORB-Breathe-Again

Take another deep breath to eliminate any remaining anxiety. Swiftly evaluate whether your response was effective. If not, try another approach. But if it was, remain calm and celebrate your victory!

When presenting, losing your nerve can be inevitable. Letting this get the best of you is not.

Develop this strategy when you’re prone to anxiety during presentations, and find a way to transform that energy into a positive approach. Otherwise, you’ll keep running into mental blocks.

Master your presentation so that you won’t even need to look at the slides. All it takes is practice, practice, practice!

Kalibrr is an online job matching platform based in the Philippines with over 5,000 customers worldwide. Kalibrr’s vision is to connect talent to opportunity at scale. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn for more career advice.

Overcome Anxiety Like These Famous Presentation Experts

Warren Buffett isn’t the only person to suffer from stage fright. Famous people like Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, and Joel Osteen all experienced the jitters while presenting to a crowd.

Their presentation anxiety didn’t stop them from reaching the peaks of their careers. Instead, they used it to motivate themselves to keep improving.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

We redesign PowerPoint presentations.

Get your free quote now.

get a free quote

If these famous figures overcame their fear of public speaking, so can you. Stop anxiety by inspiring yourself with their stories.

Why were they afraid?

The reality is that many people struggle with performance anxiety. First, understand why you’re getting goosebumps before you can tame it. Let’s see if you share the roots of your fears with these famous presentation experts.

Winston Churchill is notable for his tenure as head of the British parliament. He’s admitted one flaw in his momentous career—he got frightened each time he delivered a speech. This stems from a particular speech impediment that makes him mispronounce the letter ‘s.’

The great American orator, Abraham Lincoln, had also experienced speech anxiety. This occurred when he was invited by the Republican political committee to deliver a keynote speech in New Jersey. Afraid of criticism, he abruptly declined the request.

Joel Osteen was famed for his devotional preaching in the United States. His evangelical mission started when his father died, leaving him no choice but to take over. This frightened him the week before his first sermon in 1999. He feared being negative compared to this father.

How did they overcome it?

Let’s look at how these prominent people conquered their public speaking anxiety:

Winston Churchill refused to see his speech impediment as a hindrance. He believed that there was nothing to fear but fear itself. He consulted a speech specialist and was advised to improve his speech with practice and perseverance. Afterwards, Churchill finally had the urge to overcome his anxiety. His unbridled enthusiasm helped immensely. He spent hours researching and rehearsing to ensure his best speech delivery.

“You are what you think,” Abraham Lincoln said. He reassured that his negative imagination towards himself was wrong and simply alienated him from effectively delivering his speech. Have you also felt this even once? Do not fear public speaking.

When Joel Osteen overheard negative comments about himself, he thought that he wasn’t good enough. He described himself as a horrible public speaker. He eventually used these labels as words of encouragement and empowerment, and eventually grew confident in speaking. “Wrong labels can keep you from your destiny,” he said.

Everybody gets stage fright, even reputable historical speakers. The next time you’re scared of being shamed, think of these public speakers’ horror stories. Let them guide you in curing your presentation anxiety and become a public speaking expert.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Download free PowerPoint templates now.

Get professionally designed PowerPoint slides weekly.

Sign Up Now

References:

Lampton, Bill. “How Professional Speakers Control Their Stage Fright.” Business Know-How. Accessed June 1, 2015.
Overcome Anxiety Like Presentation Expert Warren Buffett.” SlideGenius, Inc. May 04, 2015. Accessed June 1, 2015.
Presentation Skill: Using Nervousness to Your Advantage.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 3, 2015. Accessed June 1, 2015.

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.

READ MORE: 

 

Featured Image: Pablo via Flickr

Presentation Mistakes to Avoid When You’re Nervous

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.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

We redesign PowerPoint presentations.

Get your free quote now.

get a free quote

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.

 

Reference

Inside Glossophobia: Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking.” The Creativity Post. December 04, 2012. Accessed September 01, 2014.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Get hundreds of PowerPoint slides for free.

Sign up for your free account today.

Sign Up now

Featured Image: Victor Jeg via Flickr

Public Speaking Anxiety: Facts, Stats, and Methods to Beat It

If you’re suffering from glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. An estimated 75% of the world population suffers from some degree of public speaking anxiety.

Don’t worry. Public speaking anxiety doesn’t have to hold back your career.

Most people cope with their anxiety through avoidance. But since public speaking and presentations are important in most work environments, this isn’t a viable option. Your career might require you to step up to the podium, and it doesn’t have to become the dreaded scenario you’ve imagined.

Deal with the symptoms

Public speaking anxiety manifests itself through different physical symptoms, some of which are listed below:

  • breathlessness
  • fast heart rate
  • shaking or trembling
  • cold sweat

These are caused by your body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. Calm your body down through some relaxation methods.

The easiest thing you can do is to take slow, deep breaths until you feel your heart rate slow down.

Prepare as much as you can

With your “fight or flight” response triggered, you’re sure to encounter problems concentrating. When you feel your mind has gone blank, you’re more likely to stammer thoughtlessly through your presentation.

Most people identify this as the main cause of their public speaking anxiety. Prepare for your upcoming presentation as much as you can to avoid being swept away by your nervousness.

Your preparations should include creating a script and memorizing its general structure. Don’t write down everything you want to say and memorize it word for word. Your delivery might become stiff and lifeless. Worse, you might forget what comes next.

Practice your speech consistently. Do it in front of a mirror until it feels like second nature. If you can, gather a small group of people you trust and have them sit through your rehearsal. Ask them for any pointers or advice for improvement.

Maintain a positive outlook

Focusing on negative thoughts can make your public speaking anxiety worse. It’ll be hard to completely eradicate your concerns, but try to frame them into a more positive outlook.

Identify your concerns and listen to the negative thoughts that feed them. Ask yourself why you might feel this way, and give yourself some positive reinforcement.

For example: You’re anxious that the audience will be dismissive of your presentation and judge your authority or knowledge on the topic at hand.

Instead of questioning your ability to deliver, remind yourself of the research and preparation that went into your presentation. If they bring up anything you’ve missed, don’t take it as a personal attack but a helpful criticism you can use to improve your work.

The Takeaway: Acknowledge your fear

People with public speaking anxiety often fight to hide their fears from their audience. This will only aggravate your nervousness by giving you one more thing to worry about.

As the statistics in the infographic suggests, your public speaking anxiety is perfectly normal. It’s even likely that someone from the audience has the same fears that you do.

Once you’ve smoothened out the edges, having a well-designed PowerPoint presentation should match your winning pitch. But most importantly, it’ll help you connect with your audience better.

Despite your anxiety, remember that you’re not just addressing an auditorium of faceless people. You’re speaking to people with their own ideas on what they find interesting. If your audience is engaged and at ease, you’ll be able to relax and move forward with your presentation.

 

References

GlossophobiaAccessed June 11, 2014.
10 Relaxation Techniques That Zap Stress Fast.” WebMD. Accessed June 11, 2014.