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5 Ways to Calm Your Presentation Fears

5 Ways to Calm Your Presentation Fears

If you’re anxious about giving a presentation, you’re not alone. Seventy four percent of people fear public speaking, but with preparation and practice, they can become proficient presenters, confident in what they have to say and how people will receive it. Here are a few tips to calm your presentation fears and give a knockout presentation each and every time.

Thoughtfully Develop Your Material

Clear, concise material is the easiest to present. Organize your material in a logical, consistent format so that one thought logically flows into another. It’s helpful to think of the material in terms of chapters, like a book. Create an introduction, body, and a conclusion. Cut out any unnecessary points so you have time to fully develop the important material. What are the questions you’d have about the material if you were hearing someone else give this presentation? Make sure those questions are answered within the material that you’re presenting.

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There are two ways to craft a presentation. One is to script every word, but this leaves you no room for ad-lib, and it makes it easy to lose your train of thought and derail the presentation. It is much more effective to make an outline, listing only the key points of each topic. Then you can fill in the body as you speak without fear of getting sidetracked and losing your place. Think of it less like a memorized speech and more like a natural delivery of information.

Prepare Yourself Mentally Before You Begin

Mental preparation is as important as learning your material. First, realize that your audience has a vested interested in your success, just as you do. After all, they’re investing time and effort into attendance, and they want it to be profitable. Nobody in your audience wants to see you fail. Next, learn how to calm yourself. You can do this by picturing yourself giving a brilliant presentation instead of visualizing yourself messing up.

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Picture yourself sitting in the audience, watching yourself deliver an interesting, engaging, informative presentation. Also, learn some calming techniques, such as breathing exercises, to calm your nerves right before you step up to present. A good way to break the ice and allow yourself time to calm down before the presentation is to hand out useful swag, like promotional pens so everyone can take notes. These few minutes spent handing out pens before the presentation allow you to meet and greet the audience and practice your relaxation techniques before stepping up to speak.

Rehearse Thoroughly Well Ahead of Time to Present

Develop your presentation way ahead of time so you have a lot of time to rehearse it. Whether you’re using Powerpoint or other visual aids, practice with whatever you plan to use on the day of your presentation. If possible, have a friend or family member sit in so you can practice in front of an audience. Run through the presentation a few times to familiarize yourself with the subject, and then practice in front of someone else.

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It’s a good idea to prepare a method for people in the audience to ask questions. If you’re intimately familiar with the topic, instruct them before you begin to simply raise their hands if they have questions. Or, before you start, ask them to hold all questions for after the presentation. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting sidetracked during your rehearsed performance. A knowledgeable coworker might volunteer to have a pretend question and answer session during rehearsals so you’re prepared for this part too.

Be a Human, Not a Robot

The only danger of over-rehearsing is to memorize the material to the point that you sound more like a robot than a human presenter. Stay fluid enough to remain engaging and entertaining rather than just an informer of the facts. Don’t hesitate to work in relevant anecdotes, a few tasteful jokes, or other lighthearted methods for keeping the audience involved and engaged in the presentation.

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Take time to watch other presentations for insight and inspiration. For instance, you can check out some of Zig Ziglar’s inspiring presentations on YouTube. Ziglar is one of the most engaging speakers in the modern era, and you can learn a lot from his techniques and how he takes command of an audience in a personal way. Or, find one of your own favorite orators and emulate what they do to make their presentations spectacular.

Take Control of the Presentation From the Beginning

When it’s time to step up and begin the presentation, take the reins. This is your time, your audience, and your subject matter. You’ve developed good material, practiced it until you’re an expert, and you’ve relaxed your nerves so that you can think and speak coherently. Now, let go of those fears and allow the presentation to shine. Speak more slowly than you think you should, because it’s human nature to speak faster when speaking in front of others. Force yourself to breathe at a normal pace in order to pace your speech.

Don’t worry if someone asks you a question to which you don’t know the answer. Even experts don’t know every single thing about their topic. Offer to research the answer and get back to them, or ask them to find out and let you know because you’re interested in the answer too. Never let a single questioner take over the presentation. If someone has lengthy comments or wants to start a debate, ask them to meet with you after the presentation or during break.

With the proper preparation, there is no reason to fear giving a presentation. In fact, many people are able to overcome their fear of public speaking and eventually learn to love giving presentations. This does take time and a lot of practice, but it isn’t uncommon at all. Just remember, your audience wants to see you succeed as much as you do. Nobody enjoys sitting through a poor presentation. In fact, audiences are more likely to step up and help the speaker save a teetering presentation than to ambush one. Prepare, relax, and do your thing.

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Published on January 7, 2021

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

How To Train Yourself When You Lack Attention To Details

Some people see the trees for the forest, and some see only the forest, meaning they lack strong attention to detail. But even if you’re one of the people who take a macro rather than a micro view, true professionalism requires balancing both.

If focusing on the fine points is not your forte, you will benefit from training yourself to pay attention to details. You will profit by saving yourself time, effort, money, and credibility.

Why Training Yourself in Attention to Details Pays Off

You add value to your organization when you make the effort to ensure that you performed your work thoroughly and effectively. This is why job postings often list “attention to details” among the required skills.

When you present your supervisor or client with well-completed, high-quality work the first time, it maximizes your value and minimizes wasted time. Detail-oriented people are also more adept at catching mistakes that could lead to costly blunders.

Moreover, attention to detail is an indicator of possessing other in-demand employee qualities, such as organization, thoroughness, and focus. In some professions, such as accounting, engineering, medical research, and more, you can only excel if you have trained yourself to pay attention to details.

In other professions, possessing strong attention to detail is the very quality that will get you promoted to a position where you will be asked to consider the big picture.

Finally, if you are the “go-to” details person, everyone else on the team can relax a bit. They know the project is in good hands and will likely throw you more projects as a reward. This will ultimately lead to your advancement.

3 Important Aspects of Becoming More Detail-Oriented

Here are the 3 important things you need to learn if you want to remedy your lack of attention to detail:

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  1. Respect deadlines
  2. Understand the work-flow plan
  3. Build in time to mess up

1. Respect Deadlines

Deadlines lend all projects a finish line. One smart idea is to take the given deadline and work backward from it, calculating when your piece of the project is due. Then, if you stick to the proscribed schedule for completing the mini-projects that you have, you will never miss a deadline.

One important note on this: It is smarter to stick to the deadline and turn in work that merits a “B+” than to blow the deadline with “A” work. Chances are, through revision and suggested changes from others on the team, you can bring up your B+ work to an A later. But if you disregard deadlines, you will lose the respect of your boss and fellow teammates.

2. Understand the Work-Flow Plan

Your team is developing work in conjunction with other teams who have projects and deadlines of their own. When you grasp the whole work-flow plan, you may be able to either add insight to the greater project or to your own smaller piece of it that others at the firm will consider valuable.

3. Build in Time to Mess Up

You can expect that “what can go wrong will go wrong.” Don’t overpromise on deadlines. Something likely will mess up, but when it does if you built in the time to fix it, those around you won’t freak out.

Chances are, you already give your attention to several details. Take heart. You can do this! You can overcome your lack of attention to detail and become more detail-oriented.

For starters, consider this: Most people take the time and put in extra effort into the activities or undertakings that matter to them most. Training yourself to become more detail-oriented can mean adopting a similar pattern of behavior.

Apply the same attention you give to your appearance. Are you a meticulous dresser? Do you pay attention to how you pair patterns and colors, and how you accessorize a particular outfit?

This is the same system to use when you lack attention to detail with your work. Give every item careful consideration so that each one contributes to the perfectly pieced-together whole.

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Assemble the ingredients the way you do when you cook. Cooking and baking from scratch require close attention to details as you measure and add each ingredient in sequence, and you time everything so that the meal comes together at the same time.

Similarly, your work product requires you to gauge whether all the ingredients have been added and that your final product is delivered on time.

Organize your business network like you do your social contacts. If you follow a broad base of friends and acquaintances on social media, you can apply similar skills to stay up-to-date on details associated with business acquaintances.

When you meet somebody who could be influential to your career or a resource for improving your skills, follow that person on social media. Respond to their posts to keep the lines of communication flowing.

12 Tips to Help You if You Lack Attention to Detail

Teaching yourself to take note of important details involves sharpening your perceptions and thinking ahead. The following tips will help you adopt these practices. Master these habits when training yourself to become detail-oriented.

1. Learn to Listen Well

You will pick up relevant information and needed nuance when you apply the skills of active listening. In conversations, train yourself to make eye contact, give your undivided attention to the speaker, and ask pertinent follow-up questions.

Training yourself to pay better attention to details in conversations includes learning to fully concentrate on what others have to say. If you find it hard, there’s no harm in taking notes on what they say.

2. Pay Attention to Social Cues

Make a point of noticing body language and facial expressions that provide insights into how others perceive a situation. Social cues offer details that give you an understanding of how words and actions impact others. The infamous character Michael Scott of the television show “The Office” epitomizes the consequences of not paying attention to others’ body language.[1]

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3. Follow Rules

Rules and protocols usually come about from lessons learned and are put in place to avoid further mishaps—whether from a safety or efficiency standpoint. If you’re given step-by-step procedures to follow, check them off as you go. Also, return to the rules at the project’s end just to make sure you adhered to them all.

4. Take Notes

Note-taking is a way to boost your retention and gives you something to refer back to when you need to keep track of pertinent details. You will also heighten your focus as you listen for relevant information. Review your notes shortly after the meeting or conversation and highlight the content that you intend to apply.

5. Prioritize What Needs Your Attention Now

When you have a full slate of work that demands your attention, take a few moments to sort assignments from most to least urgent. Keep a calendar, spreadsheet, or project planning software up-to-date with schedules and deadlines to help you stay organized.

As you tackle each urgent assignment, give it your full attention so no details are missed. Give yourself ample time—especially if you tend to be someone who waits until the last minute—as rushing can make you overlook important details.

6. Have a Detail-Oriented Assistant Check Your Work

If you lack attention to detail, then it makes sense to seek help from someone detail-oriented. If you have this option, take advantage of it. Two sets of eyes are better than one. Just be sure to credit your assistant for their help once the project is completed.

7. Learn the Rules of Writing Well

English is a difficult language, and grammar, punctuation, and spelling can all sabotage you unless you pay attention to detail. When in doubt, look it up. Free to use website services such as Grammarly can help.

8. Proofread Before You Hit Send

Nothing is perfect in its first draft. If you lack attention to detail, then put in the extra effort before submitting things. Before you send off any written work, check carefully not only for misspellings and incomplete sentences but also for improper tone, inappropriate colloquialisms, and inconsistent formatting. When your written communications are error-free, they will have their intended impact.

9. Minimize Distractions

It is impossible to stay focused when colleagues carry on conversations nearby or your mobile notifications ding you throughout the day. Do your best to limit distractions.

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If you are working where there is a lot of noise or side activity, try wearing noise-canceling headphones or seeking out a quiet corner. Disable your notifications when you need to focus, and resolve to only check them after you have completed your assignment.

10. Take Breaks

It may sound counter-intuitive to stop and take a walk, but it’s necessary. Walk away from the screen. Moving from one task to the next across the span of your workday is a recipe for brain fatigue. Give your brain a recess time when you come to a natural stopping place or after you complete one project and before you start the next. These short pauses are necessary for sorting through all the details needed for coming up with successful solutions.

11. Make Time for Reflection

At the end of a workday, take a few minutes to go over the day’s events in your mind. What was said or relayed in conversations? What is the status of the projects you worked on? What else occurred that you should pay attention to? Could there have been any details you might have missed that you should address tomorrow?

12. Keep a Detailed To-Do List

This simple organizational tool is your best ally for getting your work done on time and for paying attention to the details. If you are pressed for time (and who isn’t?), write your list to coordinate with dayparts.

Allot a certain number of hours to complete each task, do it, and then check it off. Nothing feels more rewarding than completing all the tasks on your list. But if you can’t finish them, then carry them over to the following day.

Final Thoughts

Details may seem small, but they can become a lot larger when they are overlooked. If you know you lack attention to detail, commit to training yourself to embrace the many facets that can help you consistently excel in the tasks you set out to accomplish.

When you begin to catch your mistakes in advance or apply the tidbits of information you gathered from paying close attention, you will know that you have trained yourself in the fundamentals of becoming detail-oriented. After that, you should start hearing the phrase “Great job!” more often.

More Tips on Boosting Your Attention to Detail

Featured photo credit: Cristina Gottardi via unsplash.com

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