6 Tips to Power Through Your Presentation

29/09/2022 6 Tips to Power Through Your Presentation

Adam Max

Live presentations are finally back. We’re leaving behind our screens and returning to upfront, in-person talks. Companies are investing resources, audience members are traveling from near and far, and expectations are high! You need to be ready to stand center stage, often in front of hundreds of people.

After more than two years presenting on video, you may be out of practice. Or perhaps it’s the first time the spotlight will shine squarely on you. Either way, the pressure is ON.

This is why we’ve put together six simple tips to help you prepare for your next presentation.

  1. I’m not nervous…

You’re about to present to a live, large, and possibly global audience. The interesting thing is that whether you’re excited or feeling really nervous, you’re physically going to react the same way. Your mouth will be dry, your hands will feel clammy, and your heart will start pounding.  

So if your body physically reacts to nerves and excitement in the same way — why not change a negative into a positive? 

When we think of presenting, we imagine all eyes on us and we often feel we need to put on a “show.” While I still often speak on stage, I actually stopped “presenting” three years ago. I realized that whether it’s one-on-one, or with hundreds of people, I’m still just giving them a gift. The gift of what I think will be of value to them. This first mindset shift, from “presenting” to “sharing”, lowers the pressure because you no longer have the burden of “presenting.”  

The second mindset shift is from, “I’m nervous” to “I’m excited.” Your mouth will still be dry, your hands will still feel clammy, and your heart will still be pounding.  But your mental response to these physical reactions will be positive. 

It may seem minor, “newagy” or “fluffy”, yet mindset creates outset. Time and time again I experience the huge impact these mindset shifts have on numerous people I coach for their talks. (Yes, talks, not presentations). This simple switch in the focus of your thoughts can make  the difference between going out there and failing or going out there and nailing it.

  1. Speaking of value… 

Regardless of who is in the audience they all want to know one thing: WIIFM — What’s In It For Me? When you’re planning your talk, defining your audience’s WIIFM is the crucial difference between an engaged audience and one that becomes busy playing with their phones. 

So you have some really cool technology or product? So What? 

You’ve had some amazing accomplishments? SO WHAT? 

All those cool features and accomplishments are meaningless unless they provide your audience with tangible, relevant  value. How do these features benefit them? How are your accomplishments relevant to them? 

Your job is to explain the “WHY.”  To move from features (or information) to value. “We’ve created this so that …”  

To get there, keep asking yourself:  “But why…?” Then make sure your talk clearly answers this. 

Here’s how you do it.

Imagine you’re trying to explain yourself to a kid hanging onto your shirt. They will keep tugging and asking, “But why?” until you give them a fully satisfactory answer.  You need to clearly demonstrate the WIFFM for the audience. Use phrases like “So that…” or “In order to…”

Show your audience the relevant value and they’ll listen to every word.

  1. What’s the Big Idea?

Let’s say you really wanted a KOL (Key Opinion Leader) to hear your presentation, but they were unexpectedly called away and missed the whole thing. They don’t have time for a step-by-step replay. They want to know what they missed in a nutshell.

Can you describe your big idea in one sentence? Or in a short paragraph? What is your  idea that’s worth spreading? When it comes to preparing our clients for TEDx events or TED style talks, being able to answer this question is the foundation to delivering a compelling story.

It’s not always a no-brainer. Sometimes, distilling your talk down to the ONE thing you want everyone to remember can take hours. But once you’ve found it, that’s when the magic happens.

  1. And, um….

Worried about forgetting what you meant to say? It’s a very common concern. It’s also easily addressed. I often tell our TED talk presenters (who usually have months to prepare and a limited amount of time to share their story) to know their talk so well that they can forget it. That is, know it word for word. Have every pause, intonation, and gesture so well-rehearsed they don’t have to think about it.

Then again, most of you aren’t preparing for the TED or TEDx stage, don’t have such a long time to prepare, and your time slot is longer. In these cases, it’s better to learn the outline instead of trying to remember it word for word. Break it down into topics. In the first topic, I’ll cover a, b, and c. In the second, e, f, and g. In the third, I’ll tell an anecdote, show a video, or provide a juicy takeaway. 

Visualize and memorize the flow of your main points and how one leads to the next. Don’t memorize, conceptualize. Know your flow

Once you know your flow you can start repeating your talk out loud. The more you say it out loud, the more your talk starts to come out the way you planned. There’s a vast difference between how you’ll say it the tenth time and how you’ll say it the thirtieth time. 

  1. Can you answer the tough questions?

Some presentations involve Q&A. Here’s where you need to prepare for the worst. What’s the most challenging question they can throw at you? Do you have the answer? If you’ve ever watched a reality show where entrepreneurs are put on the spot by potential investors, you’ll know that some people have all the answers, while others are completely thrown. 

This is the moment you’ll either sink or swim, so prepare for it. Ask your colleagues to play the devil’s advocate. Ask them to trip you up, interrupt, and ask you cringeworthy questions. Once you’ve mastered everything they can throw at you, you’ll be ready to walk your talk onstage.

  1. Sharing the spotlight

In many events, people are being asked to co-present with a colleague or a client. On the upside, it’s not all on you. One of the most important things to figure out is who’s going to talk about what, so you can smoothly juggle your talk while ensuring no one drops the ball.

It’s here you need to play to your strengths. Talk about the topics you know and focus on your expertise. You both need to shine, while sharing the spotlight. Create cues for transitioning between the two of you so you keep the momentum going. Pass the baton without dropping it, reach the finishing line, and enjoy a well-deserved round of applause.

There you have it. Six simple ways to power through your next presentation. 

Adam Max
Senior Consultant and Trainer


Preparing for your next presentation? We’ll coach you through it. If you’re short on time, you may benefit from our executive presentation training program tailored to your needs. 

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