How To Deliver a Fearless Presentation

Presenting is no easy task, and causes many people serious anxiety. On Wednesday, GovLoop hosted a virtual training, “Ace Your Next Presentation: From Briefing the Boss to Rocking the Stage.” The two speakers, Lauree Ostrofsky, Chief Hugger and Coach at Simply Leap (a career and life coaching organization), and Dave Uejio, the Acting Deputy Chief of Staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, shared with the audience tips for overcoming anxiety related to public speaking and delivering a fearless, effective presentation.

At GovLoop, we like rapid fire Q&A to help us pack in as much info as possible.

We’ve covered 20 of the presenters’ tips already in a blog post, and now we’ll address the pointers from the question & answer section.

Tips From Ostrofsky

How do you control the shaking in your voice when presenting?
• Practice pauses – this will give your presentation its best rhythm.
• Rest assured that you hear the wavering more than the audience does. Relax and have confidence!

How do you change your tactics if you’re presenting online?
• Even if no one’s watching, pretend like they are – stand up, even if you’re in your office or home. Your body language can be heard in your voice.

How do you deal with hecklers in the audience? How do you instead involve the audience in a productive manner?
• Acknowledge and deflect audience members who try to derail the conversation with a barrage of questions and aggression. Bring it back to your main takeaways. Also, remember that the microphone is power, so be careful to whom it goes and for how long.
• Once the audience member has spoken, repeat their question.
• If you’re worried that there won’t be enough questions, prepare some in advance. Most of the time, the areas of potential audience curiosity will be clear ahead of time.

Uejio’s Tips

How do you orchestrate the timing of your presentation?
• Break down your messages into smaller messages. If you do this when you’re preparing your presentation, you’ll have an easier time cutting corners if you’ve gotten behind.

Should you use humor?
• Only in certain circumstances. In a professional presentation, it should be used sparingly – for instance, to drive home a point or to diffuse an uncomfortable topic. Especially in government, it’s very important to find the right balance, as there’s a lot of politics at play.
• Don’t overuse humor so much that the message gets lost.

Any recommendations for websites and resources?
• Slideshare, TED Talks, and Ignite Talks. However, you should use these only for inspiration, not as templates – grace your slides with own your personal touch.

Are handouts any good?
• Research shows that people can’t process verbal and written information simultaneously, so avoid handouts when possible. If it’s absolutely necessary, give them out at the end.

Is using heavy data a good idea?
• Keep in mind your audience. Chances are, most audience members don’t have the experience with big data analysis, so chose only the most important key data points to share.

With these new tips, your next presentation will be no big deal. Goodbye fear!

Listen to the entire on-demand virtual training here.

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Mark Hammer

Do you have to present ALL your information? Nah. But there is nothing wrong with bringing slides or handouts (or even – gasp – overheads) *with* that additional information. If your presentation prompts someone in your audience to ask for/about it, then you can whip out the slide and accomplish two things: 1) make them feel good about asking the question (because clearly it was important enough for YOU to look into the matter), and 2) show them how exceptionally well-prepared you are.

Lauree Ostrofsky

Great idea, Mark! With some forethought you can predict the majority of questions that you will get. Preparing for those ahead of time, with facts or infographics to support your points, can really make a difference.