giving a gun presentation

It is important if you want to become your industry’s voice, to become a great presenter, and through this, we will uncover the practices to reach your full potential.

A fundamental notion to improve your presentation skills is to shift your mindset. Often, I used to go into presentations when I was younger and probably more insecure and thinking about my own ego and my own performance. How am I going come across today? Are people going like me? If you come to it really thinking about, well, what are my audience here today to gain from this session? And truly, what can I gain and learn from them as well if I come to it without proper endeavor? I feel like I’m already off to a better start.

Self-consciousness is the killer. What you’ve got to remember is this presentation isn’t about you. It’s not about you, how you look, your slides. It’s not even about what you’re about to say. It’s about how you can help that audience.

So, I want you, front up, hopefully to get into a paradigm shift where it’s almost when you do it right, you almost aren’t even there. You are not doing this for yourself, you are doing it all for the audience.

And one of the biggest myths around presentations I think is that people often produce beautiful slide decks or beautiful speaking notes and they think I’m done. But that’s almost guaranteeing you’re not going to get the kind of encounter you want. I think if you go in there more about engaging your audience, they’re going be far more involved and it’s not going to be death by PowerPoint. Let’s be fair. We all turn off.

I remember showing up to uni for an assessment, which was a presentation, and we’re all sitting through each other’s presentations and it was death. And our group rolled in with ours, and as soon as the class realised it was a presentation evening, people just got up, just stormed out the door, because it’s agonising listening to a poor presenter. And you are on the pathway to being a terrible presenter if all of your prep is on the slide deck. And you’re just terrified because you just don’t have the right mindset.

So let’s break it down. If we’re making it all about the audience, how do we pull that apart and start feeling better straight away in the prep?

I think one really good thing to do is take a check of who’s in the room, who is my audience, who am I speaking to, and make sure that I’m hitting my notes at the right level.

Why are you there? How can you help them? So here we are. You can get on board with that or not, and I guess you do become more confident as you get into this. Someone like me would even say, “Hey, if you’re in the wrong room, here’s your two minutes to pick up your gear and leave because this plane’s about to take off to London. We wanna make sure you’re on the right flight.” So in a way, now I’m being very contrary. If you’re not on this journey with me, get out.

And now I’m actually controlling the room because it’s, this is not an opportunity now for the best speakers. They will not tolerate people sitting on their mobiles, people being distracted, people actually not engaging and being with them. So you can get to that level of confidence.

And you know what, when you think about it, right? If you’re giving a presentation and you help one person in that room, that’s a win. So why not get the other 99 out of the room? And just help that one person. But I promise you, if you are that confident from the front, the other 99, all of a sudden are on the edge of their seat, what’s this person going do next?

They’re captivated. What is going be said next? I find it helps me, before I go into any presentation situation to visualise, well, what are some of the things I think I might be talking about? What are the things they may ask me? It’s good for me to run through in my head. How can I make this information relevant and resonate with my audience?

And if I keep it to two or three bullet points in my own mind, I find that comforting because I feel like I’ve got something I can immediately go to if I need to, and I’m not bombarding myself with a complex thought process.

You’ve gotta dump the scripts. Don’t go out there trying to read a script.

People standing there shaking, reading a script. For heaven’s sake, those days are gone. You should be up there with a point to make and then you give an example, so you make a point. Then you give an example, you make another point. Then you give another example. Such a simple method.

That’s how I like to absorb information. If I look at it as a presenter, I like to engage with them as a person, try and relate to them. Where can I relate to them, where am I different?

Reading a room, engaging people, body language. I think our anxiety is linked to events and things we’re scared of, if our baseline anxiety’s really high, presenting, doing anything we’re scared of, is going be a drama. Look after yourself. Get the rest in. I always operate better when I’ve had a good night’s sleep. Maybe I’ve eaten some nutritional food, whatever that might be. I’ve got some air in my lungs. I know one thing we like to do is duck out and go for a couple of laps of the CBD to get some air in our lungs, albeit polluted air perhaps. But anyway, it makes you feel good.

Let’s wrap up with the key point here: tell stories. I’ll give you a brief one. I started this business nine years ago now. When I first left the newsroom, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but you know, you are looking to help people and through helping people, revenues are usually attached to that.

And by telling your own stories, I think, well, I respect that person. They’ve shared something. You’re more likely to share something yourself that’s meaningful, but you won’t do that if you think it’s sort of a defensive game going on. You know, if someone serves you a ball, it’s like tennis, you’ll probably return it.

But if you want to connect with an audience and really achieve something and be unforgettable, you could tell stories that people don’t forget for the rest of their life. Yeah. That is actually entirely possible, and that’s what good talent does.

It’s a vulnerability. It’s storytelling. It’s emotional, but you’ve got all hundred people in that room captivated. You are winning. And look at the opposite. The opposite: I’m terrified. It’s all about me. I’m shaking with my white paper in front of me with a PowerPoint. That’s death.

Be vulnerable. Tell stories. Make sure it’s not about you. That’s the golden thing.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.


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