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If you ask marketing and tech guru Seth Godin about a fear of public speaking, his answer will be “start with dogs…” wait, what? His tip is to start with a very small audience and work your way up. This is awesome advice, for sure – the whole point is that you regularly practice a lot in a safe environment.
So, read on if you want to get over your fear of public speaking, boost your presentation skills, and pave your way to a more senior digital position.
How to Create a Killer Deck
So, what does it take to create a presentation that doesn’t lead to a snooze fest? Let’s take a look at some important features.
Your Cover Counts
You’re going to be doing an introduction for your presentation, and the cover is probably going to be staring the audience in the face for a good few minutes – in other words, they’re going to notice it whether you’re showing it live or via your feed.
So, you want to make it memorable and, hopefully just intriguing enough that the audience gets a bit excited about getting to the next slide. You’ll want to use an eye-catching, but relevant visual and make sure the title piques their interest as well.
Use Charts & Graphs
Ever wondered how to display data in a slideshow? Don't overload your presentation with basic bar charts, if you have something to show, you need to make it easy to understand and engaging. Thankfully, the most common slide-based programs tend to have built-in features that are able to capture your data and create colorful charts and graphs.
Pay Close Attention to Slide Design
Choose a layout that is appealing but simple and be sure to not include too much text on each slide. You’ll also want to make sure you end with a clear summary that restates the key points in a slightly different way than what you said through the presentation. The idea is really to offer the audience something that they can walk away with – they’ll want to have a clear picture of your topic or pitch, and the combination of a clear set of visuals with some great storytelling will leave a lasting impression.
Tips & Tools for Stellar Presentation Visuals
Want to cheat? Don’t worry; you can find plenty of tips, tricks, and tools to create a great presentation all over the web.
Here are a few places to start.
If you’ve ever heard anyone refer to a “deck,” they most likely were using Slideshare, the largest community-based sharing slideshow setup. Integrated with LinkedIn, it’s one of the biggest websites in the world. It’s super easy to use and supports all types of common file formats.
Canva is an awesome resource for almost anything visual. Hop on in there and play around – there’s plenty of information available at no cost. It’s got a great range of templates, and it’s very easy to use in various browsers. The photo editing capabilities are second-to-none, and there are plenty of other things you can do with it as well. Of course, you can always upgrade to a paid account, and that will give you access to even more amazing features.
This platform isn’t compatible with PowerPoint but it’s collaborative and completely exportable.
Prezi is quite popular right now, and when you give it a shot you’ll quickly see why: you can create dynamic shows, even with animation. It does this by using one canvas that you can basically stick as much in as you want.
This is a great resource for designers or anyone feeling like they want to get particularly creative with their next presentation. One of the only problems is that you don’t have the option – at least in the free version – to keep your presentations private.
LibreOffice is fully compatible, and there are no annoying ads to deal with. It has plenty of great options for exporting and other features that you can test and try out.
This is a great place to go if you’re just starting out and want to play around with platforms other than PowerPoint. It’s free; it’s simple to use and quite flexible, too.
How to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking
No matter what Seth Godin (or anyone) says, the only way to get through your fear is to practice, and often this means that you need to throw yourself into situations that make you feel somewhat uncomfortable.
In the age of digital media, we’ve got lots of opportunities to speak in group settings without really leaving the comfort of our own homes, so this can create a perfect environment to practice your presentation without a ton of pressure.
Here are some tips:
- Join your local Toastmasters or a Meetup group devoted to public speaking
- Get a few friends or colleagues (whoever will give you completely honest and detailed feedback) on the line for 10 minutes and schedule a Google or Skype video hangout, then get them to give you feedback on your presentation either while you are speaking or after the fact.
- Do everything you can to eliminate the “what if” statements and visualize yourself as the most confident person in the room before the event.
- Try a self-help healing technique like tapping to help you get rid of anxiety and get grounded. (It may seem cheesy at first, but it really works!)
- Make sure that you create a presentation that actually interests you and include some personal stories or audience engagement tricks to help relieve the pressure if you’re speaking to a large room. When you make it more of a conversation, everyone will be more relaxed.
- Accept the anxiety. It may sound weird, but actually embracing your anxiety -- instead of blaming yourself for it or letting it make you feel somehow inferior – is the first step in letting it go. It is only natural to be at least a little bit nervous in these types of situations, so give yourself a little bit of a break.
Putting it All Together: Wow Your Audience
Aesthetics alone aren't going to ensure success if you’re doing a full-on presentation in front of an audience of any size. You’re going to have to position yourself so that the audience is clearly engaged.
Practice Makes Perfect (and Useful Content too)
So, you don’t have a fancy conference or even a workplace meeting coming up to practice your public speaking skills? Well, all the more reason to create a killer presentation anyway! If you’re just starting out in the digital marketing world, having a Slideshare or video presentation is actually one of the best ways that you can market yourself to clients or potential employers.
You can take a simple 3-minute video and share it quickly across multiple platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and you can even include it in your email marketing as well. If you’re not ready to share it professionally, you can create private YouTube videos as you’re practicing and just watch yourself. Your future self will thank you!