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Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time

Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time

According to Forbes, 70% of Americans agreed that delivering good presentations has been critical for their success at work.[1] Delivering presentations and the communications skills which go along with it are a big part of not only work life, but college, and school too. Yet it is something a lot of us struggle with.

I recall one time, in college, I had to deliver a presentation on a topic, and the person before me was so pro, and covered so much of what I intended to cover, that I was left there, in front of the class mumbling and stumbling my pre-prepared speech. Fear of public speaking (Glossophobia) is so common that a stunning 75% of people suffer from it.[2]

Of course, fear of public speaking is only one aspect of why delivering a great presentation can be tough. You may find yourself having to condense weeks of research and pages of information and data into only a handful of minutes.

On top of this you could worry about the format and structure of your presentation (this is a big issue for me).

As it is important for professional or academic success, all these stresses can make presentations seem nightmarish. But they don’t need to be. In fact, your presentation and public speaking skills can be improved tenfold thanks to a handful of tips and considerations.

Many, many books have been published about tackling public speaking, many therapists specialize on helping people with this anxiety (of course, if you feel like seeing one may help, go for it!) but great improvement can be made without too much effort. See the tips below.

Drop Verbal Fillers

Every-day conversation and talk is actually pretty strange if you really pay attention and focus on it. We speak in run on sentences, sometimes don’t quite make sense, make points that don’t lead anywhere, and most of all, fill our talks with little verbal ticks and filler words.[3]

Filler words fill our spoken sentences with words like “um”, “ah” “like”, and “you know?” words, that don’t mean anything, and are only there so you can keep making a sound when you figure out what to say next. Its perfectly natural and pretty much everyone does them.

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We are all so accustomed these elements of casual conversation that we don’t notice them. However during a high pressure activity like delivering a presentation we can start to become really aware of it all, and start to kick ourselves for making them. Whats worse, is that they may have a genuinely negative effect on our presentations.

The solution?

Get rid of them.

But how?

A good tip is to record yourself in numerous conversations, then repeatedly listen to them. This will make you much more aware of how you use filler words and will be good step towards dropping them.

Though we don’t like silences, sometimes not saying something for a second, and taking a breath may make you sound more confident than filling your presentations with fillers.

If you need a little bit more help, there is actually an app designed to coach you out of using filler words called Likeso. [4]The app is programmed to pick up your use of filler words when you talk and reveal them to you as a percentage of your overall speech.

Getting rid of filler words will also improve your communication skills generally and make you much more articulate, merely by clearing away unnecessary filler.

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    Inform, Educate, and Entertain

    These three intentions should be core to your presentation. The same ideas were the foundation of the BBC, and were big parts of all of Steve Jobs ‘ presentations and product launches.[5]

    Entertaining those viewing your presentation (perhaps by adding an element of humor to your presentation or other elements) will ensure they won’t be bored during your presentation. Also if you entertain well, they will be drawn to you.

    Informing and educating is where you convey the substance of your presentation.

    Practice, Practice, Practice

    This is by far the most obvious bit of advice, but it is also by far the most important. Before delivering your presentation, you need to know it backwards, forwards, left right, up down, every way.

    If you can, try to memorize as much as possible. This might both help with nerves, but also make you come across as more confident and knowledgeable.

    People are naturally drawn to those they perceive as confident. So, if you deliver your presentation with confidence brought from practice, you may turn those people you’re presenting to, from intimidating judges, to a captivated audience.

    When practicing consider not only the words you’re saying, but how you’re saying them, and your movements and posture. A presentation is pretty much a performance. A piece of theater, and you are the lead actor.

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    Consider your body language

    Though we tend to think that communication is all about what we say, and perhaps tone. It is thought that 94% [6] of how we communicate is actually non verbal, this is a myth, however your gestures and body language are important parts of your communication.[7]

    You could be delivering the most beautifully written presentation ever, but if you deliver it without moving, timidly in the corner with your hands in your pockets. You will seem uninspired and well..boring.

      The good news is, gesturing is perfectly natural, if you make effort to deliver your conversation with confidence, this will show itself in your gestures.[8] All you need to really do is loosen up and the rest will take care of itself.

      If we begin to pay attention to our use of gestures, we may initially begin to feel a bit self conscious and may fight the natural urge to gesture. Don’t pay attention to these feelings, and your presentation will be all the better for it.

      Don’t be afraid to bring in sources and ideas that aren’t directly relevant

      This really only works in presentations when you have a decent amount of time in a presentation. But if a part of your presentation reminds you of something in history, science, or literature and it seems relevant. Don’t be afraid to work it into the presentation. Mark Levy, president of the branding firm Levy Innovation,[9] and the writer of Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight and Content[10] says the following :

      ““If you’re talking about, say, workplace productivity, it’s fine to talk about Pickett’s Charge [in the Battle of Gettysburg] or black holes or an idea from an Elizabeth Gilbert book that, in some way, relates to workplace productivity. Bringing in ideas from other domains keeps people awake and interested, and it’s actually how paradigm shifts are born”[11]

      This makes sense, after all, why are books like Machiavelli’s The Prince or Sun Tzu’s The Art of War still so popular?

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      I don’t believe its because Renaissance era Florentine politics and ancient Chinese warfare are common interests. But instead the lessons contained within (though I’d be wary of those who pay too much attention to Machiavelli) have been used and adapted successfully by those in business.

      Whether to read out loud?

      The advantages of reading your presentation from a pre-written script are at first, pretty clear.

      Focusing on the script will ensure everything you say is valid and appropriate, will help eliminate filler words as you no longer need to think about what to say, and means you don’t need to spend the whole time looking at everyone’s faces and wonder what they’re thinking.

      The advantages are obvious…however they are deceptive.

      It is always a good idea to have something on hand like a script or sheet of notes. However, relying on notes or a script completely will suck out all life from your presentation.

      Also if you are just standing there and reading, you will seem as if you haven’t practiced, and by extension have little interest or knowledge in what you are presenting. This can kill off your presentation entirely. As such, if you don’t think you can memorize the whole thing, you should work hard to find a good mid point.

      Featured photo credit: Judson University via flickr.com

      Reference

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      Published on November 28, 2018

      How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

      How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

      The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

      So how to do meditation?

      The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

      Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

      From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

      You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

      1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

      Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

      The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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      The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

      Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

      2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

      Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

      Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

      Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

      • Living things, such as plants
      • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
      • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
      • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
      • Furniture away from walls
      • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
      • Incense or something else that smells good
      • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

      Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

      3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

      In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

      However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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      In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

      Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

      Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

      4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

      Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

      Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

      Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

      5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

      At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

      Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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      We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

      This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

      6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

      As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

      Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

      If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

      If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

      7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

      What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

      Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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      1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
      2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
      3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
      4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
      5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

      As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

      Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

      You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

      Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

      You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

      Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

      You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

      You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

      As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

      Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

      Reference

      [1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
      [2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
      [3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
      [4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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