The one thing nervous speakers forget


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3 Checkpoints to Presentation Success: A Practical Guide to Creating a Clear & Focused Presentation

It’s the morning of your presentation and the telltale signs of nervousness appear. You’ve got butterflies in your stomach, palms sweaty, dry mouth.

What’s worse is when your colleague sits next to you just before you get up, taps you on the shoulder, and whispers, ‘Oh wow, I’m so nervous for you right now!’.

Gee, that was helpful…

Whether in front of your peers or in front of strangers, standing up to speak in front of people can be daunting.

If there’s one tip that nervous, inexperienced and fresh speakers forget about, it’s this:

Your audience wants you to succeed.

Unless we’re speaking in front of a ravenous crowd baying for your blood (which I’d guess wouldn’t be the case), then your audience actually wants you to win!

Not because they feel pity for you. Not even for altruistic reasons.

It’s because they are tuned into WIIFM.

WIIFM isn’t a radio station. WIIFM stands for ‘What’s In It For Me?’

According to business writer Sue Maden, “WIIFM is..a basic instructional design concept…(WIIFM) is a statement about the benefit to the attendee.”

If people are in it for themselves, internally, your audience will be asking, ‘what solution will you bring to my situation’?

Your audience wants you to win, because it’s in their best interests. They won’t find value in someone not worth listening to, otherwise they wouldn’t have turned up. They have given you something precious of theirs.

Their attention.

The attention your audience gives to you is sacred. Which ultimately leads me to this:

Your audience won’t care or know that you’re nervous. There is no need to admit it.

Don’t waste precious time by apologising or admitting that you’re nervous, or feeling unprepared.

I would contend doing so undermines your credibility. It communicates to your audience that you haven’t taken any consideration of their time, even though you have!

Your internal self talk can be powerful in this moment.

In the lead up, visualise yourself starting strong.

When it’s time to speak – smile, walk up to the stage, take a deep breath, and look at a few people in the room. Take a few moments – take your time, everyone will wait for you to start.

And then start. Start strong! You’ve got this!

Your audience is on your side. Question is, are you?

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