How to give a killer presentation

Let me tell you a story about a presentation that I once gave that I still have nightmares about to this day.

It was my final advertising class and we were split into two groups.  Whichever group created the best campaign for Craftsman lawn and garden tools would win a trip to Chicago to see the Craftsman Experience and tour Y&R.  It was my groups turn to present to a few representatives from Craftsman and Y&R.  They were not just representatives, they were the big shots.  Bob Winter from Y&R created the Budweiser 'Real Men of Genius' campaign and Kris Malkoski, director of marketing at Craftsman were both there.  I would say those are some pretty influential people.   The presentation begins, we are rocking it.  I am halfway through mine and I looked at Winter, and my mind went blank.  It is like I was starstruck. I got dizzy, I couldn't breathe.  In the back of the class I could see a classmate mouth 'breathe!' Ok so, after a deep breath, I got it together and we aced it.  My group won the campaign and we went to Chicago.

Moral of the story: disasters happen, but it is up to you to get back on your feet to turn them into a positive situation.

Here are a few tips to calm your nerves and to ensure all will go smoothly.

1. The night before

  • Prepare your materials for the next day so you are not rushing at last minute.
  • Practice so you can anticipate what you want to say and are familiar with the text.
  • Eat a good dinner and a good breakfast the next morning.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Get a full nights sleep.

2. Minutes before

  • Review your materials.
  • Drink water.
  • Breathe.
  • Smile.

3. During the presentation

  • Smile.
  • Think positively and have confidence.
  • Speak slowly and clearly.
  • Relax.
  • Keep your hands at your side unless you are using hand gestures.
  • Pause every now and then to let your words sink in.
  • Remember that you really do know the information and you are just there to prove your point!

Also remember that your presentation will be over before you know it, so make sure that you present with confidence.

For more experienced public speakers, here are a few tips to enhance your skills.

1. During the presentation

  • Make eye contact and make the audience feel like you are talking directly to them.
  • Ask the audience simple questions to interact with them.
  • Engage.
  • Do not stand in one position the whole time, but do not pace the room.
  • Do not use note cards.

Remember that they are there because they want to know what you have to say.  Engage them and make your point strong. Before you know it, the presentation will be over and you can finally stop sweating!


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