To hate doing presentations?

(120 Posts)
googlenut Fri 08-Mar-13 20:51:42

I hate it so much and because of that it takes hours of my time in preparation because I get so nervous.
Anyone got any top tips or anyone enjoy them and tell me how they get around not being nervous?

WorriedTeenMum Sat 09-Mar-13 12:07:04

Thinking about your audience, are they all native English speakers? Most of my presenting has been to international audiences and one useful tip I was given was to not use idiom and to keep your power points and speaking in line with each other. A simple presentation which is easy to understand will be far better received than incomprehensible glitz & glamour.

Best tip ever given to me by a professional trainer and presenter:

Remember it is not about you.

So long as they remember the message then you have done your job (even if you fell flat on your face doing it!).

badbride Sat 09-Mar-13 12:20:48

googlenut You're certainly not alone: I train academics in presentation skills and a lot of them (male and female) hate giving talks. Given the adversarial atmosphere of some of the Q&A afterwards, where folk pick apart the presenter's data, this is hardly surprising.

Can you put your finger on what is making you feel unconfident?

Mrsrobertduvall Sat 09-Mar-13 12:33:25

I love them..it's my job to present to large groups of children.
My mantra is that they know nothing about what I am going to tell them, so if I get things in the wrong order, it doesn't really matter.
It's the Eric Morecombe school of thought....I say the right words, but not necessarily in the right order.

googlenut Sat 09-Mar-13 12:41:22

Hi Badbride
Not used PowerPoint before so the techy side
Presenting to peers and superiors so if cock it up will see them again
Worry about coming across as nervous
Quite reserved so dont like lots of people looking at me
Am rehearsing as walking around the house so that is calming me down.
Being really well prepared works for me but takes so much energy!
I'm also probably making this into something more than it is. Just a cross departmental meeting. My research is really exciting - loads of people say so not just me - so dont want to not do it justice.

badbride Sat 09-Mar-13 13:14:48

Hi googlenut

Panic not, these are issues many presenters experience smile. My suggestions would be as follows:

1) Powerpoint: don't feel you have to use fancy animations etc (most of them are crap, tbh). The more complex the Powerpoint, the more there is to go wrong, so stick to simple slides with not too much text and clear figures.

If possible, it's always a good idea to turn up early at the talk venue to test the projector, run through your slides etc to iron out any potential technology cockups before your talk. Familiarise yourself with the room and decide where you will stand.

2) Presenting to peers/ superiors: most audiences are sympathetic and wanting to speaker to succeed (after all, they will have have to give presentations at some point). And as you say, your research is really exciting and people want to hear about it. And you're the world expert on it! Which is awesome.

Why do you think you might cock it up? Don't do yourself down, assume the best smile. But at the same time, plan for the worst: what's the worst thing that could happen, and what will you do if it does? E.g. what to say if your mind goes blank. You might never need the plan, but having one can help calm nerves.

3) Coming across as nervous: playing devil's advocate here: so what if you do look a little bit nervous? Most presenters do feel nervous whether they show it or not and audiences know this. So don't beat yourself up about it.

Going back to what I said in an earlier post: one way to beat nerves is to fake the body language of a confident speaker: stand still and upright, lift your chin when you talk, and make roving eye contact with the audience. I second what an earlier poster said about breathing out before you start.

One of the key giveaways of nerves is too much movement/ fiddling. I am a terrible fiddler: I twiddle pens/ pointers/ rings etc. One of the best bits of advice I was given is to hold hands with myself behind my back. I can fiddle with my rings as much as I like an no-one can see!

If nerves make your hands shake, ditch the laser pointer, it magnifies shaking.

4) Being reserved: I share your pain. The way I deal with this is to make the presentation about the material, not me.

Sorry for rambling and apologies if any of the above s teaching you to suck eggs. Hope it helps, and good luck, you will be brilliant grin

lljkk Sat 09-Mar-13 13:25:12

Thanks for tips on this thread.

I hate them too, I will have to learn PowerPoint now (about 15 yrs too late).
Reckon I will need to do min. 10 hours of preparation for a 10 minute presentation, argh... (at a job interview next month).

I am rubbish at anything to do with performance and try so hard to run a mile from that, but gritting my teeth as most jobs seem to require at least a little. Hate all forms of public speaking; hate being centre of attention. Have done loads of presentations, to colleagues, at conferences and teaching even, did several years of dance classes, too, but was terrible at it due to horrendous sense of rhythm; still loathe presentations and am probably terrible. Actually many lecturers are terrible public speakers I notice, but I think most of them don't seem to notice or mind whereas I do. It must be bliss to be so oblivious!!

My dad declared when I was 5yo that I would never be a bride (nearly right).

googlenut Sat 09-Mar-13 14:04:02

Badbride thanks so much for that post. It's really helpful, will print it and keep reading it.
I'm determined to crack this as I love my job and presentation will be such a big part of it.

badbride Sat 09-Mar-13 16:27:31

Not at all, glad to be of service grin

googlenut Sat 09-Mar-13 17:39:27

Anyone any ideas how to sound less formal when presenting?

WorriedTeenMum Sat 09-Mar-13 17:47:17

If at all possible try and find a room you can practice your presentation using an overhead projector. This is useful for two reasons:

- practice connecting your laptop up, I know that when I am nervous I turn into Mrs Tenthumbs and end up fumbling about!

- check what your slides look like on a big screen. I know it sounds daft but when you are standing in front of your slides you can find yourself surprised by how they look! My theory on this is that when you write them you go top down but when you are presenting you are often below them so the bottom of the slide is what you notice!

I once presented to a non-English speaking audience who were listening to my presentation via a translator so I was presenting to a large group of people all sitting with headphones on scowling in concentration - twas very strange and slightly unnerving!

WorriedTeenMum Sat 09-Mar-13 17:54:00

A big thing which helps to sound less formal is to slow down your speaking. Remember that by the time you present this will be old news to you. To your audience it will be brand new.

Smile, be enthusiastic, this is your specialism.

I use a remote presenter thingy which allows me to move away from my laptop. These are very easy to use, one part plugs into a USB port, you hold the other part and they allow you to advance your presentation without having to go back to your laptop. Looks more professional and most have a laser pointer which is fun to play with.

MrsHoarder Sat 09-Mar-13 19:39:19

I'm posting here solely in the hope of getting good tips, I'm mid-way through a masters and the course I'm about to start is being taught "seminar style": we all have to prep and a die will be rolled to pick which lucky soul gets to present. I can't do hours of practise for two presentations a week when I'm only likely to present one in the whole course!

I've got some nice cheery green slides for next week (because everyone needs bright green at 9am) but should be doing coursework so can't practise them endlessly, I need to learn the actual stuff underpinning them too.

googlenut Sat 09-Mar-13 19:49:39

Wow what a scary way to teach - would drive me mad!

WorriedTeenMum Sun 10-Mar-13 09:28:37

MrsHoarder IMO the best way to learn something is to teach it so dont treat the preparation of the presentation as something separate from your course work. You will be making notes etc so just put these in a powerpoint rather than in a notebook.

Even if the topic is completely familiar to you then you can find out new things. I presented the same topic for many years and even the last time I presented that topic I spotted something about the topic I hadnt seen before.

MrsHoarder Sun 10-Mar-13 10:56:13

Oh I know it will be a good way to learn the material, for starters there's nothing like the risk of having to stand up in front of a class and talk about it to focus the mind on getting the work done. It just means I have to get* stressed about presenting several times.

* or I could get over myself because its unlikely that the class are going to be harsh on a poor presentation and I have the advantage of being a native English speaker.

WinterMymble Sun 10-Mar-13 11:00:03

I adore public speaking - one of my favourite things in the world - which is good since it is a big part of my job. And the advice you have received here is fantastic! Especially to speak MUCH slower than you think you need to and to make good eye contact and not just with the most important person in the room - they can then feel like a pinned butterfly!

ParsingFancy Sun 10-Mar-13 11:21:27

Do your presentation like this!

googlenut Sun 10-Mar-13 13:09:35

Winter - can you describe why you adore public speaking? I can't imagine what that feels like!
Are you a 'talker' in every day life. I think people who find it easy to speak off the cuff fare better with this kind of thing.

googlenut Sun 10-Mar-13 13:24:10

Parsing - wouldn't that be so easy to only have one word to say!

cumfy Sun 10-Mar-13 14:19:36

Is it:

Your pet subject ?

A proposal ?

An interview ?

A summary ?

10 minutes sounds very short and is much more awkward than 20.
Is it going to be 10 minutes exactly ?

You will need to be able to time your presentation via "rehearsal" and get your intro down to 20-30 seconds.
Some people are surprised at how fast 5 minutes can be wittered away in an extended introduction.

I would not recommend dumbing down and would leave yourself several slides of extra data for questions.

Academics will want meat.
You must have meat.
Are you sure your video is meat ?

playg Sun 10-Mar-13 15:33:41

I'm a reserved person too, totally understand how you feel. After a bit of practise though, I found I could find presenting really rewarding and enjoyable though.

Thing is you can give a really good presentation and be petrified. Your heart might be thumping, and your armpits sweating, but the audience can't see that. Don't worry about it, allow your body to get on with it, and give a kick-ass talk regardless.

Some of the best speakers have this all the time, it's just hard to spot. www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H36kbMMrZo - she seems so confident, but, nearish the end she admits to lots of sweating!

Lots and lots of good luck. And here's a wine to keep til afterwards.

googlenut Sun 10-Mar-13 15:49:28

Comfy - you've got me worried now! It's an overview of a project with a cross departmental theme which my research falls into. Have been told to make it descriptive of the project - not with results.
I agree 10 mins is a tough call, can't get in much background to research in but need some so people can make sense of it.

Previous jobs have involved presenting but to members of public so am a bit worried about dumbing down. This is just a morning seminar so don't think people will be too worried about coasting g their brains for a bit smile

Lomaamina Sun 10-Mar-13 20:52:16

Googlenut don't worry! If I may chip in: I'm an academic, so I have a bit of experience with presentations (although I'd never say I'm an expert - just getting better every time at hiding the fear). First of all 10 minutes can be plenty if you focus on what you want to get across. I recently did an inter-departmental Pecha Kucha www.pechakucha.org/faq where we only had 6 minutes each! The trick is not to give too much background. You want, I imagine, to tell them about how interesting your research is, what sparked it off, what's your research question and then some key findings and then a nice punchy summing up saying where you're going with the research as next steps. After all, you want to get them to ask you questions, follow up on your work.

I'd recommend by the way to sign up to a PowerPoint course when you can. Confidence in using it means one thing less to worry about.

And yes to fewer words per slide. A nice image for each slide to focus on is ideal.

And rehearse, rehearse and again. Don't worry if you sound stilted in front of DH. I would too (never permitted him to watch me lecture in all my career to date).

googlenut Sun 10-Mar-13 21:23:16

Thanks for the reassurance Loma. Glad to hear you would sound stilted in front of Dh as I've been worrying that I am going to come across as flat after presenting to him. The best presentations I've been to are when the presenters take a conversational tone but that's hard to do I think when you are nervous.

willesden Sun 10-Mar-13 21:25:37

I am so jealous of anyone who can confidently do presentations. I have been on courses and have been coached but still manage to faff them up. Good luck OP. It sounds to me like you will be great.

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