Presentation Tip: Your Best-Kept Secret

Excuse Me, Have You Seen My Nerves?

We all know what it’s like to feel nervous. Flushed cheeks. Sweaty palms. Churning stomach. All you can think about is how nervous you must look — which, of course, makes you stammer and shake all the more!

How do you escape this downward spiral? Start by remembering the secret every great presenter knows: When you speak in front of an audience, they DON’T see the butterflies fluttering inside you!

I know it seems too good to be true, but trust me, it is. We’ve coached about 5,000 presenters in the past 15 years. This is what we’ve found:

  • After presenting, we ask them, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how nervous were you?” We then ask the audience how many nerves they saw. The results are incredible. 99.9% of the time, audience members saw fewer nerves than the presenter felt.
  • When our clients see themselves on video (this is the main reason we use video-recording) they say, “Oh my gosh, I don’t look nearly as nervous as I felt – that’s amazing.”

So when you start to feel nervous, remember: You never look as nervous as you feel! Instead of focusing on your nerves, try to focus on your listeners and helping them get your message. Meanwhile, your nerves are your own best-kept secret.

— Carol

Tales from the Field

Tales from the Field

From a Designer:

I don’t know why I volunteered. I was so nervous.

But there I was, at the end of a day-long charrette, about to present my group’s design ideas before a prestigious panel and a huge audience. The three previous presenters had bombed. They mumbled, talked to their drawings and used “arch-i-speak” others didn’t understand. I wanted to try something different.

Recalling a recent Graceworks workshop, I resolved to just talk with my listeners. I didn’t make a presentation; I had a conversation. I spoke passionately about our ideas. I shared how much fun we had collaborating and refining the concepts. And I watched the panel visibly wake up and respond.

As each panelist shared their thoughts at the end, our team received the most attention and praise. I’m convinced the human connection works – and it’s so much more fun!

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