In class this upcoming week, we are presenting on a strategic communications campaign. This post is going to take a step away from sports and social media and instead focus on another important aspect of strategic communications, giving presentations.

According to statisticbrain.com, 74% of adults suffer from glossophobia or fear of public speaking. So if getting up in front of a group of people scares you, don’t worry. You are not alone. In preparing for my presentation I looked up tips on delivery as well as ways to calm down your heart when you’re stressing out. Here is what I found.

1. Show your passion

Nobody wants to listen to someone talk about something they don’t seem interested in, don’t be that person. Make sure your passion for your topic shines through. This doesn’t mean you don’t need good talking points or visuals. But, by being passionate it will make expanding on these talking points much easier. If you are excited your audience will be excited.

2. Start strong

The first three minutes are the most crucial minutes of your whole presentation. This is when someone’s brain decides “wow I’m really interested in this” or “yeah, not happening, nice try buddy *scrolls through Twitter*”. If you need to introduce yourself make it fun, don’t just talk about your job talk about your life. Show pictures of your kids or pets, make it personal.

3. Keep it short

Humans have an average attention span of eight seconds. That means every eight seconds something new and exciting needs to happen to recapture the audience’s attention. Maybe you switch the slide or ask for audience participation. Your audience has the highest amount of attention in the first three minutes and when the words “In conclusion” come out of your mouth. Don’t go on and on about all the tiny details, hit the facts and move on. Make it a conversation not a college lecture.

4. Make eye contact

This doesn’t mean find one person and stare them down the whole time, instead, try looking at a few individuals rather than scanning the whole group. If you’re using a projector and a laptop don’t turn your back to check the screen. What is on the screen is also on your laptop, glance at that instead. Remember the saying “never turn your back to the ocean” same goes for a group of people.

5. Say the magic words

Yes, you have taken time out of your schedule to prepare and present but your audience has also taken the time to listen. Thank them. Take the time to answer questions and if possible hand out business cards or stick around to speak to audience members individually. You want your audience to know that you appreciate them being there.

As for calming the heart rate here is my favorite tip, breathe in through your nose for four seconds then out through your mouth for four seconds. Repeat three times. This helps slow your heart rate and stop any sweating, in case that’s happening too. Most importantly remember if you are enjoying yourself – or pretending to enjoy yourself – your audience will too. And with that, I take my deep breaths because even the thought of presenting freaks me out. Best of luck to us all.

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