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GULP... I have to present a seminar on Thursday. TIPS, PLEASE!!

(65 Posts)
WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:06:29

My job normally is a deskbound one, but this Thursday night I have to present a small, short seminar. It's quite an informal setting (upstairs in a restaurant), but the guests will have paid to attend and so I don't want to disappoint them.

I'm crapping myself. confused

I'm trying to write my speeches (I have to give two, each 25 minutes long) but I don't really know how to write a "speech". I've only written features and books! I'm finding what looks/sounds good written down actually sounds shit when said out loud!

Plus, I want it to be informal - lots of Q&A - but does that slow things down to the point I'll have to hurry people along so I can make my next point..?

I'm so inexperienced with this, I don't even know what questions to ask you all. So if you've ever had to do this and can impart ANY ADVICE AT ALL, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:07:17

Oh, there are also 4 other speakers coming, so I'll have to introduce them too.

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:09:23

I think all the guests will be sitting at tables in the restaurant. Do I have yo stand up in front of them all? I won't have any visual aids with me (there aren't the facilities to use them) -- will it be really dull?

I've lost all confidence in this project now and am wishing it wasn't going to happen.

Mrsmorton Sun 04-Jan-15 19:09:27

Watching with interest! I have to present in front of some Very Important People in my sphere soon. First time I'm presenting as an SME.
Going to do lots of research and go to toastmasters to stop my fucking blushing!!

Good luck OP!!

PennyJennyPie Sun 04-Jan-15 19:12:56

I'm in sales and do a lot of presentations. I constantly imagine myself in the situation inincluding all possible outcomes andand how I would handle it. Lots of visualisation. I used to do a lot of amateur drama when a teenagerteena, and itits the same in a way - a performance, you need to practice. Good luck!

Lagoonablue Sun 04-Jan-15 19:14:58

Ok this is my field. Decide what your overall aim for the session is, then decide what 3 objectives you want to achieve. What do you want the audience to know/understand by the end of the session.

Then think about your intro based on your aims and objectives. Think of headings then write notes around the broad headings. This will help keep you to task. Think of how you can summarise your main points towards the end.

This gives you a structure. Next consider timings.

Once you have your presentation. Practice it, time yourself. Use notes, then condense notes to cards. With some practice you may not need the cards but you can still use them if necessary. No one will mind.

Crack a few jokes too if you can.


AuditAngel Sun 04-Jan-15 19:15:09

I have been sent on a presentations course by work. We were told to run through what we wanted to say 7 times. This ensures you are familiar with the content and won't stumble over your words. Speak slightly slower than normal, as you tend to speak faster when under stress.

Time your practices, so you know if you are running yo time.

UnMasterChef Sun 04-Jan-15 19:15:30

Different things work for different people, here are a few things that work for me

- I don't like writing things word for word, I prefer to have lots of bullet points to work through, I get lost reading a script, but other people prefer to have it set out. practise it a few times at home, I find cats and children's cuddly toys make a good audience, and its useful to practice with a reference point. This should allow you to work out what kind of notes work best for you
- get there early so you can assess the layout, find the loos etc
- I would stand up, it's easier to project your voice and look more confident
- With Q&A, a good way to move things along is to say you are coming onto that point, or will come back to it at the end when it will be easier to answer more clearly
- Wear clothes you feel confident and comfortable in, you don't want to worrying about whether your bum looks big
- SMILE - assuming it's appropriate for the subject matter, before you start talking, smile, it will make you feel more comfortable and will relax the audience.

Most audiences want the speaker to do well, and will start off on your side, so just keep them engaged

AuditAngel Sun 04-Jan-15 19:16:04

Remember to face your audience,

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:16:23

Good luck, MrsMorton!

PennyJennyPie -- see, I'm not dramatic at ALL so I don't know how to move/stand, etc. <<gets nervous>>

Do you learn every word of your speech, or use bulletpoints?
Should I invite questions, or only at end of every section?
How will I stop myself thinking, "That person over there looks bored. GOD I SUCK AT THIS" and lose all confidence/forget my place?

Lagoonablue Sun 04-Jan-15 19:18:10

Yes to standing up.. It's tough but it gives you a bit of authority. Keep your tone friendly and makes lots of eye contact. Tell them at the start they can ask questions. If you are worried about time build in a 10 min q and a at the end and ask them to keep questions until then, though people asking questions as you go along keeps it friendly. You need to stick to time though.

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:18:43

Thanks for so many replies while I wrote mine! reading now...

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:19:51

How do you keep an eye on time without looking at your watch? Is it actually ok to look at your watch? I thought it seemed unprofessional. blush

CakeAndWineAreAFoodGroup Sun 04-Jan-15 19:22:17

Film yourself - it's surprising how many movements you make that you don't realise.

I filmed myself for a pitch for my business and I had to train myself to stop making random arm movements that detracted from my spiel. I had no idea I did them.

Practice. Often until you could say it in your sleep.

Good luck! smile

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:22:19

I think it's the "air of authority" I'm struggling with. I have huge imposter syndrome and would far rather be sat at the back than standing at the front.

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:23:07

I love all of you. I'm off to film myself now.

spacefrog35 Sun 04-Jan-15 19:23:45

The usual advice is to start by introducing yourself, then tell them what you're going to tell them ( a contents list if you like), then tell them the stuff you want them to know, then sum up what you've told them.

If you want lots of questions then tell them this up front otherwise they won't know to interrupt. If there are one or two people you know prime them to ask a question or two as sometimes an audience needs 'permission' to ask. Once one has more will.

Make sure you know who you are introducing, how to pronounce their names and the topic of their talk, don't worry about full introductions. If they want to list their experience etc then they can do that. Always thank the speaker who has just finished before you introduce the next.

If people are paying it's because they're interested. Remember they're on your side, they want you to do well. There's nothing wrong with telling them you've never done it before at the start if it helps.

Write cue cards but do not read word for word from notes
Try to make eye contact with as many people as possible (not head swivelling, just catch someone's gaze and talk to them for a sentence or two then move on to someone else)
Carry on smiling
Leave the gin alone until you've finished wink

Lagoonablue Sun 04-Jan-15 19:24:19

Oh I have imposter syndrome too. However I just bluff it out!

Japaninthesweep Sun 04-Jan-15 19:31:15

Agree re bullet points. If you write your speech word for word it's easy to skip a line then get flustered.

If you only have 25 mins it may be more manageable to keep questions til the end of each section as it can be easy for time to run away.

Re confidence, remember they're there to see you because they're interested in your work and opinions, not to debate or trip you up.

Also, it's perfectly ok to use the line above where you said you're more used to writing than public speaking. Say it with a smile and it could be a nice wee ice breaker.

beanandspud Sun 04-Jan-15 19:35:42

If you have a 25 minute slot I would try to break it down...

3/5 mins - Introduction and explanation of what you are going to talk about
10/12 mins - bulk of the presentation
3/5 mins - summary of key points and invitation to ask any questions

I would try to open by saying that you will answer questions at the end - it avoids your presentation being 'hijacked' early on by questions that you were going to cover anyway.

Rehearse out loud and time it, speak more slowly than normal and don't forget to breathe.

ZammoMcGuire Sun 04-Jan-15 19:36:54

wear good accessories for everyone to look at

* shallow *

beanandspud Sun 04-Jan-15 19:36:58

Sorry, meant to say that I agree with Lagoon and start with the end in mind. What do you want your audience to know at the end? What are the key objectives?

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:39:27

Oh you're all so lovely and helpful! THANK YOU, this is all SO reassuring and kind.

I just filmed my intro and I wasn't as bad as in night,new dot i sway from side to side like I'm hammered AND my mouth when I speak veers DRAMATICALLY off to one side, like I've recently had a stroke. !!! I never knew that!

Aside from that, I looked confident but it's only my bedroom.

Thanks for reminding me these people WANT to hear me talk! I honestly had started hating my imagined audience, all there waiting for me to fail and judging me...

I'll finish writing the second bit now.

ZammoMcGuire Sun 04-Jan-15 19:42:03

* rams scarf and some earrings at you *

WhatsGoingOnEh Sun 04-Jan-15 19:42:03

God - what happened in my post above? "As in night new dot"??? Maybe I did have a stroke!

I meant to say it wasn't as bad as I'd expected, except i sway around like I'm drunk. Which unusually I'm not.

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