Powerful Presentations
By Vicky Phillips

What's the most common social fear among adults? Public speaking.

Try as we might, few of us can avoid the task of public speaking. Most of us have been called upon to pitch a project to clients or present ideas to our coworkers, and most managers must regularly present ideas to their teams.

Public presentation skills can make or break a career. You may have great ideas--and you may have the raw talent to translate these ideas into reality--but if you can't stand up and convey your ideas with clarity and persuasion, you'll never motivate a team to work with you, and your potential may go unrealized.

Overcome your fear
Your first step is to realize that almost everyone is afraid of public speaking. It's okay to feel the fear. Public figures from Oprah Winfrey to Ronald Reagan have struggled with stage fright. The difference between these hyper-public people and most of us is that they practice, practice, and then practice some more, in an effort to harness their fears.

Fearful people are full of pent-up energy. You can channel that pent-up energy from private fear into a public sense of excitement. The key to success is how you handle yourself once the spotlight falls on you. Don't try to stop the nervousness that fear brings. Instead, act in ways that help move the energy through your body.

Move around. Avoid standing perfectly still behind a podium during your presentation. You're full of energy. Walk around while you speak or at key points in your speech. Walking will help dispel your nervous energy.

Use your hands. If you are behind a podium or confined to a single spot during a presentation, move parts of your body. Use your hands actively to punctuate points or use a laser pen to point to key ideas or images on flip charts or PowerPoint slides.

Don't forget to smile. Fear causes many people to avoid eye contact with the audience. They look down, studying their notes instead. If you must rely on written notes, remember to pause at frequent intervals. Look out at your audience and smile.

Organize your ideas
Your fear of public speaking will only intensify when you feel unprepared or your presentation is disorganized. Good speakers do not stand and speak off the cuff. Instead, they plan what they will say by outlining the key points. After they have a simple outline, they begin to practice.

At least two weeks before your presentation create a simple outline of what you plan to say. When I say simple, I mean it: as simple as 1-2-3. For example, if you have been called upon to present on how to improve client recruitment you might have three logical points you want to cover:
o How we recruit clients now
o The three least effective methods
o Three new ways I think will be effective

Organizing what you have to say around no more than three main points will keep your discussion focused, and will help you remember what you have to say. It will also help your audience understand and remember your presentation.

(Note: I don't know the source of this article, other than the author's name - please let me know if you find the source.)