PART 2: Glossophobia, or the fear of speaking in front of people, affects most people to some degree or another – whether it is in the form of sweaty palms or complete stage fright. Apply these tips to your repertoire today and gain the confidence you need to give a killer presentation.

Watch your (body) language
As we have heard recounted many times before, our body language speaks for itself. While crossing your arms or keeping your hands in your pockets conveys a shifty, barricaded or suspicious nature, other stances can improve your audience’s subconscious opinion of and relation to you. George Torok, also known as the “Speech Coach for Executives”, also emphasizes the importance of an open and honest facial expression. “You look most trustworthy, friendly and confident when you smile,” he says. Free your hands from your sides so that you can move naturally. Avoid gestures that distract your audience from what you want to communicate instead of support it. Excessive gesticulation can make people feel uncomfortable, and can end up communicating more than you might have intended.

Survival language
Before your presentation, prepare a small arsenal of survival techniques you can apply in any situation. Have you talked too quickly and left your audience looking confused and bewildered? “Let me do a quick recap,” is an easy and effective tool you can use to backtrack and regain their attention. Do not let your mistakes send you into a stuttering panic, but rather stay calm and speak slowly and clearly. Be honest, as well! Nobody will mind if you correct yourself or return to a previous point – as long as you do it with ease, it will be received that way.

Effective content
We have all sat through boring presentations, our eyes clouding over as we scan the headline of yet another slide on “The History of the Company”. Instead, use humorous anecdotes, personal experience or audience participation to supplement your presentation and captivate the attention of your audience. When human beings are asked to engage on an emotional level – indirectly through commiseration and identification or directly through address – they are more likely to internalise the message they are receiving and apply it in future behaviour. Also test every statement you make or issue you raise for relevance. While rehearsing, ask yourself “So what?” after every sentence. If you can’t answer this question on behalf of your intended audience, cut it out.

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