What’s your worst nightmare? Have you ever had bad dreams about . . .
- Being naked or inappropriately dressed in public
- Doing poorly on a test
- Having car trouble
- Being chased or attacked
Have you ever been awakened by a nightmare about delivering the speech or presentation from H***?
- Zipper unzipped
- Heckler out-of-control
- Equipment disaster
- Forgetting to turn off your lavaliere microphone when taking a bathroom break
- People laughing at you–(not intended)
- Many, many others
Read on to learn about real-life examples of speakers’ worst nightmares. Some are funny, horrifying and some are downright unbelievable!
I recently conducted a LinkedIn poll asking one simple question:
“Presentation blunders? Think of the worst presentation you ever gave . . . what was the #1 reason for your ‘nightmare’?” The multiple-choice responses and the corresponding votes included:
1. Equipment failure (26%)
2. Not being fully prepared (25%)
3. Boring slides or visual aids (9%)
4. Not knowing your material (11%)
5. Other (Please explain) (28%)
The question generated a high response. 118 professionals cast their votes; 26 people added personal comments about their nightmare experiences. 54% of the respondents were men/46% women.
What can we learn from this study in presentation skills?
There are many, many tips from the people who posted their personal stories. To read them in full, please see: http://linkd.in/13hFgFL
Top 5 Lessons
To appreciate the full experience of these honest people, you owe it to yourself to read the comments. Based on my own experience as well as those who responded, I believe the most critical lessons learned include:
1. Be prepared!
- Anticipate problems. This includes problems with equipment, room set-up, unexpected distractions, inability to get into the room ahead of your scheduled time, dead batteries, etc.
- Anticipate questions. Think about common, likely questions about your presentation, but also challenge yourself to think of the most difficult questions someone might ask—then have a logical response prepared.
- Be well organized. Avoid fumbling your papers, materials, notes, visuals, etc.
2. Know your audience.
- Who will you be speaking to?
- What is the size of your audience?
- What are their expected attitudes about your topic?
- What are their “hot buttons”
- How can you weave something about them into your presentation? (Demonstrate that you’ve customized your speech for them)
3. Stay focused
- Learn to relax at least 30 minutes before you go on stage
- Practice deep breathing techniques to calm yourself before beginning your talk
- Don’t panic! If anything does go wrong, take a moment to focus on your main goal.
- Remember, most audiences are on your side—they want you to succeed!
4. Practice, practice, practice!
- Even though you created your own presentation, be sure to practice standing up and delivering your presentation with your slides or visual aids and a timer.
- Video-record yourself
- Review it and make notes of things you like and things you need to improve upon
- Practice again, incorporating your changes
- When you feel comfortable and natural in your delivery, then you know you are ready
5. Have fun!
- Be creative! Be you! Do something interesting to stand out from all the other speakers in the world.
- Don’t forget to make your nonverbal behaviors work for you . . . not against you:
i. Facial expressions, posture, gestures, movement
ii. Smile . . . smile . . . smile!
iii. Dress the part—your appearance really does matter
iv. Relax—imagine that you are having a conversation with a group of friends
v. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Avoid coming across like you’re delivering a talk in a massive lecture hall
- Find interesting stories, examples, surprising facts and/or current news stories to support your main ideas
- Use intriguing graphics, images or even cartoons that are relevant to your message. People love the element of surprise!
Let’s Hear From You!
If you have a story that just needs to be told, please email us at email@example.com
We’d love to learn from your experiences, as well!