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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.

Get On the Public Speaking Treadmill: Shaping Up Your Speech

So you’ve polished your content to near-perfection. Now comes the tricky part – how do you sell your pitch? Delivery often serves as the presenter’s Achilles heel. Even the most experienced public speakers need practice every now and then.

Fortunately, public speaking skills can improve over time through proper training and determination. Speech training is available for professionals who want to develop their speaking skills.

But if you’re on a budget, here are three ways you can practice at home:

1. Explain Yourself

Put aside your big ideas for a second and focus on improving your thought process. Renowned speaker and professional public speaking coach Brian Tracy provides tips on how to reduce public speaking anxiety focusing on organizing your thoughts away from fear of rejection to positivity and achieving your goal.

Among the positive ways Tracy cited on his personal blog to overcoming the fear of facing a live audience is performing your speech in front of another person. It can be anything from the mechanics of your favorite game to the instructions for assembling a chair. Let yourself be comfortable talking about random things to other people. After all, you have to expound on your points in front of an audience eventually.

Start with someone you’re comfortable with, like a friend or a family member. This prepares you for those Q and A portions after your actual presentation. The important thing is that you’re successful in relating an idea to a person learning about it for the first time.

2. Practice Conversing

Before you get to the level of inspirational speaker, you have to get to know your audience first. One of the most intimate forms of speech communication is the art of conversation. In fact, sounding conversational during a presentation is highly encouraged. This tone eases any lingering tension between speaker and listener, and establishes a stronger connection between them.

It convinces people that while presenters are set on getting their message across, they are also interested in knowing the audience’s thoughts. In order to apply conversation in a large group, you have to master talking with others face to face.

You can start with small talk before moving to more abstract topics. Just make sure that you keep your companion engaged. Otherwise, you’ll end up boring them.

3. Record Your Speech

This is a technique often applied in professional speech training. Aside from getting feedback from others, getting feedback from yourself is important as well. Recording yourself, or watching recordings of your speeches is one way to observe any bad speech habits you may not notice when you’re talking.

Whenever you start feeling self-conscious in front of a camera, you can also watch yourself in the mirror. You can gauge how your facial expressions, body language, and movement appear to someone looking at you.

Once you’re aware of your behavior, you can work on correcting them. Of course, deeply ingrained habits aren’t things you can easily correct overnight, so practice is necessary.

Conclusion

Most public speaking techniques are based on fundamental human rules of interaction.  Connecting with other human beings is essential for your improvement as a presenter. Simple activities like explaining things and conversing with others can develop your skills further.

If you need any insight on your performance, you can record yourself or ask other people to watch you speak. This makes you aware of how you look as a speaker as well. A good speaker is one who constantly strives to be better. Practice consistently, mind your audience, and track your progress to grow into a respectable presenter.

Need a professional PowerPoint to accompany your presentation? Contact our SlideGenius experts today for a free quote!

 

References

“27 Useful Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Public Speaking | Brian Tracy.” Brian Tracys Blog. March 4, 2015. Accessed October 8, 2015. www.briantracy.com/blog/public-speaking/27-useful-tips-to-overcome-your-fear-of-public-speaking
“Better Public Speaking: Becoming a Confident, Compelling Speaker.” Mind Tools. Accessed January 5, 2016. https://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/PublicSpeaking.htm

 

Featured Image: “Microphone” by Paul Hudson on flickr.com