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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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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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