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Wish I was better at giving presentations

(27 Posts)
AufderAutobahn Tue 27-Jun-17 18:30:11

My job involves giving a presentation to new starters with our firm, around once a month, on my role, and how it supports the company's aims and objectives. It is part of the two-day induction process all new starters have and is typically delivered to groups of around six at a time.

I hate it. Every each induction, we get back feedback from the delegates, circulated around all departments and to those who also gave presentations. I generally get a mix of "excellent" "good" and "satisfactory", but I score lower than most of the others. I think I know what it is- I have quite low self esteem and hate talking in front of people. I get nervous and self conscious. I have practised my presentation in one-to-one sessions with training managers and my boss and they say I come across well. But in front of a group I just mess up. I'm so crap. I usually get quite good scores in inductions for subject knowledge but my presentation style never comes out great. I recently feedback (given anonymously), one person said I was "underwhelming and could have been more engaging." 🙁
How do others do it? Banish the nerves and the twattiness and come across well? I've read the books, I've practised in front of the mirror, I just end up being rapidly on the day. Help :-(

Gwenhwyfar Tue 27-Jun-17 18:43:39

Toastmasters is the answer. A very cheap way of getting practice and feedback.

NameChangedButStillMe Tue 27-Jun-17 18:52:24

Can you go on any internal or external courses? I've only ever worked for big companies for presentation skills have been an option for courses for me to go on. I've been on two and found them very helpful

AufderAutobahn Tue 27-Jun-17 18:53:19

Wow thanks! Just taken a look at the site. The "gestures and body language" section is interesting, but will have a proper look now :-)

AufderAutobahn Tue 27-Jun-17 18:56:09

I've been on an internal presentation skills session which was fine, and all went OK while I was there... I just seem to lose it all again when I actually have to deliver a presentation to delegates.

afromom Tue 27-Jun-17 19:00:25

Is there any way that the content of your presentation can be made interactive?
I'm a teacher/trainer and I don't particularly like presenting as I find it very one sided, I like some 'audience participation' like you would have when teaching.
When I present I normally put in a quiz or a couple of parts where i can ask the attendees a question for them to respond to. I sometimes take along a couple of 'prizes' mini chocolate bar or something to hand out fit correct answers too.
It helps to create more interest and wins people over, particularly if they have been sat in a room for 2 days listening.
It does come with practice though. I used to struggle with nerves years ago when I first started, and I found the worst days were when I had over practiced, as I had spent too much time building it up in my head.

DoubleHelix79 Tue 27-Jun-17 19:15:51

I used to dread presentations to the point where I'd be nervous for several days beforehand. When I took a job as a management consultant that obviously became a problem.

The following helped me a lot:
- doing lots and lots of presentations
- being filmed and coached by an ex-theatre actor who taught me about presence and body language. It's brutal but totally worth it.
- consciously replacing the voice in my head that said 'you're rubbish at this' with one that said 'they bloody love me and I'm doing a cracking job here'. I now mostly believe it myself smile

Now I can rock up to any presentation without being particularly nervous and generally enjoy the experience.

AufderAutobahn Tue 27-Jun-17 19:16:29

Good idea. I have incorporated a quiz in recent presentations, but the prize giving sounds good!

afromom Tue 27-Jun-17 19:18:29

I normally chuck them out into the 'audience' which causes a bit of a stir as the winner tries to catch it!
It also gives you some space whilst they think of the answer to take a couple of breaths and refocus yourself.

AufderAutobahn Tue 27-Jun-17 19:19:46

Ah yes, the old voice in the head. Mine just goes off on a right old rant when I am giving presentations, mainly going on about how pathetic I look to delegates and that other presenters are so much better. I sometimes scream at it (internally of course) to stfu!

Lweji Tue 27-Jun-17 19:20:06

What is the difference in your presentation style between rehearsals and actual presentations?

Are you too fast? Do you not make eye contact? Do you stammer or forget words?

TyneTeas Tue 27-Jun-17 19:21:44

This TEDx talk about speaking confidently is quite good

AufderAutobahn Tue 27-Jun-17 19:25:11

Lweji- yes to all those, unfortunately! I talk quite fast anyway, nerves never help. Grrrr.

PaulSimonsMatesMissus Tue 27-Jun-17 19:41:57

lots of great advice above. For me, practising out loud (not in my head) in front of the dogs helped! Adopting a "teach, don't tell" approach (lots of stuff online about this) and learning about facilitation skills also transformed my approach - often in adult/work-based learning, around the room people may well know all the answers, and they will learn from each other as well as from you. Having some interactive exercises to draw this out as suggested above is a great idea - if there is pre-work or prior reading, set a quiz straight off to break the ice. Video yourself on your phone to check your pace. And if there is any technical content to your presentation, there's some great advice in this TED talk smile Good Luck!

Muddlingalongalone Tue 27-Jun-17 19:51:05

I used to hate presenting had to go right back to basics but now could present anything if I was sufficiently prepared.

Content - bare minimum on slides, means people have to listen closely because they can't read.
Scripting the whole thing and learning it for comfort - mail opening sentence for max effect on audience &
Presentation skills course with ex theatre actor per pp. Presence, pace, tone & volume and use of silence/pauses for effect.
One tip that I found really useful - people are programmed to look left to right so have the screen on your left and people will focus on you first rather than screen.

Oh and if it's induction remember a) they are likely to be keen and interested in what you are saying and b) you 100% know more than them and they don't know if you've made a mistake / gone off track with strong body language and confidence.

Good luck! It comes naturally to some people but it's definitely skills you can learn.

Lweji Tue 27-Jun-17 19:54:31

It can help if you imagine that you're explaining it to a child. smile
It may sound slow in your head but it will probably come out ok.

Try to look people in the eye, one at a time, when you explain something.
Always pause for questions. It's always better when people feel that they can interrupt and clarify their thoughts.

Gwenhwyfar Tue 27-Jun-17 20:02:36

"Can you go on any internal or external courses? I've only ever worked for big companies for presentation skills have been an option for courses for me to go on. I've been on two and found them very helpful"

Toasmasters works out cheaper than most of these courses. You can be a member for as long as you want, much better than a short course or watching a video.

AufderAutobahn Tue 27-Jun-17 22:31:31

Brilliant advice. Thank you all. The TEDx talk video is excellent. I will also work on slowing down my speech and better eye contact. (Eye contact has already been pointed out as an issue with me!!)

TyneTeas Tue 27-Jun-17 22:44:31

Glad it was helpful smile good luck!

EBearhug Tue 27-Jun-17 23:35:16

I was going to recommend Toastmasters, too. We have a group at work and it's fun! It's people from all round the business, many of whom I wouldn't come across in "normal" work, and we have talked about all sorts - rarely work, but a couple of people have done practice runs of work presentations.

I've also been to a local group as a guest, and it's interesting to see the different ways they operate.

It does spoil you listening to people, though. I find myself silently counting the ums and has and crutch words like so, y'know and the like, and thinking about the structure and so on, rather than the content...

Another thing I did recently was a Franklin Covey course on presentation skills, where we got videoed as we refined our speeches over a couple of days. That was a good course,but I suspect like other courses, a lot depends on the person leading it. Good material only gets you so far, which I guess is partly why you started the thread.

But I'm assuming that if you are giving these sorts of speeches once a month, it is a fairly big organisation, so that sort of training provision might be available. Even if it's not, see if you can get yourself recorded. It can be a horrid experience, but it really does show you how you rock side to side on your feet, or wring your hands together, or talk to the screen, not the audience and so on. Find someone you trust to do it. And then, like everything else, it's a question of practice. (And one day, I will learn to just take a breath without saying um... Actually, I am improving. I just have more improvements to make.)

EBearhug Wed 28-Jun-17 00:06:02

And don't forget people are on your side. They'd rather sit through a good presentation than a bad one, so they want you to do well.

Lweji Wed 28-Jun-17 08:14:51

I don't know if it's appropriate in your context, but it also can help if you introduce yourself and ask about them, then mention their interests or background during the presentation. Even ask for their opinion or contribution.

If the presentation is long, insert little breaks. A joke. A question for them to think for a minute. An exercise for them to talk and think.

Move around if you can and use your hands.

KindleBueno Wed 28-Jun-17 08:41:45

I agree with all the above but also if it's nerves try Rescue Remedy.

user1496778897 Fri 30-Jun-17 22:06:38

I cheat and use a 'sticking plaster' approach....I take a beta blocker an hour before and find it's an absolute breeze to get through a presentation.

If it's nerves or anxiety that's holding you up...these work. And you'll enjoy the experience too. Propranolol is the name of the ones I take x

(I found toastmasters too 'cringey'). It was all a bit David Brent.

EBearhug Sat 01-Jul-17 09:27:49

(I found toastmasters too 'cringey'). It was all a bit David Brent.

I suspect, like any other organisation, it will depend quite a bit on who is running a particular group.

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