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How to Give a Killer Presentation When You Feel Like Dying

How to Give a Killer Presentation When You Feel Like Dying

According to surveys I have seen, most people fear death less than they fear speaking in front of an audience.

If you have a presentation coming up, you are likely losing weight and sleep while you feel it creeping closer like the tumbrel* wheels inching their way toward the gallows.

My name is Chris Ellis and I am a blogger, speaker, and a professional musician, singer and instructor. Over the years I have performed thousands of times in front of huge crowds, on street corners and in bars, restaurants, and wineries. You name it and I have played it.

Having experienced both incredible highs of a near perfect performance to nerve-jangling near-complete failures, I have worked out exactly what it takes to be a fabulous speaker or performer.

While I may not be able to wave my magic wand and turn you into Regis Philbin, I can give you simple and creative methods of making public speaking easy and perhaps enjoyable.

The key to doing anything is knowing how to do it. Do these things and you will succeed.

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Gather your facts and double check them. Make sure you are not just a conduit for them but understand them fully. Take the time to work out for yourself why they are important and how they relate to each other.

Make sure your facts don’t contradict each other and don’t put in any other data that doesn’t specifically relate to your subject. Present your data in a sequence that makes sense!

Failing to do these things creates confusion in the mind of your audience and people hate to be confused.

2) Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse!

We all hear that we are supposed to practice our presentations in front of a mirror, but how many of us actually do that?

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Get out all of your notes and equipment, and practice. Using a video camera to record your practice is vital.

Pay attention to how you look.  Do you look confident? If not, there is something you are doing with your body to convey insecurity. Look at every little thing you are doing that may distract your audience from focusing on your words and ideas. Correct these things.

Go to Youtube and find a speaker you would like to emulate. Great comedians are great speakers.

Work out what you need to do to make your presentation look like that of a great speaker.

Don’t read off a page or screen. Talk to your audience.

3) Practice making mistakes.

Look at your upcoming presentation and decide what could go wrong. For example, what if someone asks you a question and draws you into a long conversation on a point that is only interesting to him? You could lose your audience if you engage.

Practice handling that person so that you don’t go off into the weeds with him forever while your audience starts checking their text messages.

 4) Find out who your audience is.

Before you start, find out about your audience. What is their average age? What are their interests? What do they do for a living? All of these things help you make a presentation that is as personal as it can be to each of your audience members.

If you start talking to a room full of divorcees about the joys of marriage, it might not be real to them. Create a new presentation for each new audience.

5) Get to the venue early and practice using the equipment there.

Musicians have what is called a “sound check” before every show. During this sound check, the person running sound, checks the levels of the microphones and amplifiers to ensure that the sound is balanced.

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The musicians get onstage and do a few songs so that they are familiar with that particular venue and the equipment. Every venue and set of equipment is different. You must be familiar and comfortable with the equipment you will be using or your attention will not be where it needs to be, on interaction with your audience.

Above all, make sure your microphone does not feed back. When it does, it emits a high-pitched squeal that is extremely unpleasant. Do not point the mic at any of the speakers and don’t have it on so high that it distorts. Nothing clears a room faster than high-pitched feedback.

Ensure that you know how to set microphone level before your presentation. It makes you look like a total amateur when you start talking and people start yelling “Can’t hear you!”. You then waste everyone’s time setting the levels. By then you have lost your audience and it is tough to get them back on your side.

 6) Don’t picture your audience naked!

Really! Who came up with that idea? That is wayyy too much work! How can you focus on what you are saying and your audience if you are busy trying to create a mental image of even one person?

Instead of working that hard, simply take a little time before you go on. Look at your audience and decide that they are all on your side and really want to hear what you have to say.

Find things to like about your audience. That guy’s tie is awesome. This lady’s dress is beautiful. This one’s eyes are pretty.

Your audience is not a hostile crowd waiting to lynch you. They are gathered there to hear what you have to say. They really want you to succeed.

7) Talk to your audience

Don’t stare up at a screen or look over the heads of your audience. You are talking to them and they are listening and responding. A good presentation should be a sort of dialogue. There is give and take, but you must always be in control.

Invite your audience to ask you questions if something occurs that they don’t understand. Don’t spend too much time with any one person. Let them know that you will be available after the presentation to talk to them.

Creating a relationship with your audience entails maintaining control while inviting interaction. It is a delicate skill and requires practice.

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8) Bring in top-notch speakers who know how to really teach.

If you do this wisely, you can have your speakers take over a good portion of your presentation while sitting there looking brilliant for having chosen them.

Your association with brilliance will convince your audience that you are brilliant because you were able to find these guys and get them to work with you. And guess what? That is brilliant!

I do this with my students a lot. I book the venue and sing a few songs but then I let them rip! They look great, they make me look fabulous and it is a lot less work for me!

Don’t be afraid of asking brilliant people to help out. Brilliant people know the value of networking and many times are looking for an opportunity to jump in.

9) Don’t use jargon or unintelligible language!

If you throw in a bunch of jargon, acronyms and words your audience doesn’t understand, they will become restless and irritated. If you must use unfamiliar terms, explain to your audience what they mean.

Contrary to what many people think, it is not the speaker who uses big words and complex explanations who is successful.

The speaker who can take a subject, break it down and explain it in simple and understandable terms is very popular. This is a very particular skill but one which, when mastered, will make you extremely valuable.

10) Dress for confidence.

What colors make you feel bold? What shoes will make you feel confident (Hint: 6-inch stilettos worn for the first time is a bad plan!)

Create the picture in your mind of the ideal You giving your presentation. What is the ideal You wearing? Try out your outfits and move around in them, stand for a long time in them and really decide which one will make you feel the most comfortable and yet project an air of confidence.

11) Give your audience something to do.

The presentations that kill are the ones that give the audience something they can do immediately to solve a problem or handle a situation they find pressing.

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If you are talking about improving relationships, give your audience some exercises that will help them communicate better. If you are giving a cooking presentation, give them a simple but great recipe to go home and try. Your audience should be excited to go out and try out what they learned.

12) Think past your presentation

Despite all of your preparation, you may still be nervous. In fact, you may be petrified. If you can’t get your mind off your upcoming presentation and you are losing sleep, create a mental image picture of what you will do after your presentation is over. Picture yourself having a nice meal and a glass of wine congratulating yourself on giving a great performance.

When a dreaded event is in the future, our minds tend to move to that point in the future and stick there. By creating an image of the future beyond it, you can unstick your attention and you will feel a lot better.

You may even find that once you have done all of the above steps, you won’t be worried at all. My best remedy for nerves is to know your stuff backward and forward, know you can handle anything on stage and know you can direct and control your audience.

Public speaking and performing is a skill unto itself and, unfortunately, there is nowhere you can hone that skill except in front of people. Therefore if you succeed or fail you will have an audience.

Taking the time to do the above steps thoroughly will stack the deck overwhelmingly in your favor.

Go give a killer presentation! Enjoy yourself!

 

*Tumbrel: An open cart used to transport the condemned to the guillotine during the French Revolution.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

How to Stop Information Overload

How to Stop Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

How Serious Is Information Overload?

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

1. Set Your Goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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  • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
  • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
  • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

(You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

Summing It Up

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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