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Presentation Skills - Part 1 of 6

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Making presentations is the number-one fear for most people. If at all possible, we avoid having to get up in front of an audience while we marvel at those who are able to do so with apparent ease and skill. But have you considered that we are constantly making informal presentations, applying many of the same skills as presenters? Every team meeting, every discussion with peers, every interaction be­tween supervisor and subordinate is a potential presenta­tion where you are on stage. You will greatly enhance your effectiveness by applying many of the formal presentation and training techniques to these informal situations.

Consider the typical team meeting from a training and presentation point of view. As a team member you have two objectives: contribute your expertise to the subject at hand, and assist in the decision-making pro­cess by evaluating the collective set of facts. You will be on stage as you skillfully present what you know in a way that ensures that your teammates learn enough so they can use the information to stimulate their own contribution to the problem-solving process.

We are faced with these types of presentation situa­tions on a daily basis. This paper will explore some of the formal training and presentation skills you could use in everyday situations. Practicing these skills will help you manage your presentation fears. However, re­alize that it is natural to feel anxious about speaking in front of an audience, and that feeling will not go away.

STAGE FRIGHT

Your anxiety about presentations is natural. It is the body's way of dealing with the "fight or flight" reaction in a threatening situation. When an apparent threat is noticed, the brain triggers the release of adrenaline, which causes the heart rate and body temperature to go up. Extra blood goes to the hands, legs, and brain get­ting ready for action. This causes your hands and fore­head to sweat, and also causes the "butterflies" or nausea feeling in the stomach. Finally, preservation instinct takes over and rational thinking slows down.

In the case of standing up in front of an audience, the perceived threat is imagined. What we are actually anx­ious about is the thought of possible failure, or forget­ting, or not being perfect, or going "blank," or being judged about our message, or showing some weakness. The comforting aspect of this is that these fears are fabri­cations in our minds and there are ways we can control the situation to minimize, if not eliminate, the possibil­ity of these fears becoming realities.

Keep in mind that you don't have to be brilliant or reach some lofty level of perfection to succeed. You don't have to (and probably won't) please everyone. You prob­ably can't cover all of what you know and want to con­vey. And you will not be judged as critically by your audience as you will judge yourself. Instead of critiquing you, they will be paying attention to your message and its benefit for them. In fact, they want you to succeed.

Continued

Part 1  Part 2   Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  Part 6


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