Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Perfectionism and Nerves

A lot of nervous presenters I have worked with have a common problem of being perfectionists. Everything must be just so, to the point you might be escalating your nervous reactions.  For example, perhaps you check and change your visuals multiple times, you wordsmith and agonize over minor details. You script and re-script your presentation.   

If you can relate to this, experiment with changing your approach in a low risk meeting.
Below is some advice on trying this:

1.    For a typical business or client meeting, avoid scripting then memorizing your entire presentation. Scripting is ideal for speeches and lectures that do not involve audience interaction.

2.    However, it is critical that you understand the REASON you are presenting the information and why it is important to your audience or clients. This will give you the ability to articulate your ideas better as well as think on your feet.  If you are presenting someone else’s information, and a slide doesn’t make a lot of sense to you, ask them for their thought process.

3.    Do rehearse and memorize key ideas, but try a more “off the cuff” approach for the talking points around the key messages.  Make sure you rehearse this way. Rehearsal will show you what content you need to memorize and what components can be more  extemporaneous.  Do not try this for the first time without rehearsing in front of your clients.

The result in changing your approach this way can help in making the presentation feel more like a conversation to you and your audience.  Most presenters that use this technique become more engaging and genuine in their delivery.  And it can reduce the feelings of nervousness, because it changes the experience from delivering a presentation to having a conversation.