So, you’ve been doing presentations over, and over, and over again, but you are still struggling to be comfortable in the public eye. Well, here’s another tip: talk about what you love.
If you have a choice of what to present or teach, make sure that you select something that you are passionate about—something you know and love. Doing so can turn an arduous presentation into a chance to evangelize something you believe in. Talking about something you love minimizes any rote memorization and eliminates nerve-racking uncertainty. Additionally, handling questions and answers should come as naturally as having a fireside chat with your audience.
At this point, most of you are probably saying, “Well, I don’t have a choice—I have to give a speech about Topic X.” Naturally, this makes things a little more challenging, but you can still infuse your passion into most assigned presentations.
Take my graduate school thesis, for example. I was required to do a corporate strategy presentation in order to graduate (and perhaps, more importantly, show what I had learned over the past two years). Most of my classmates were considering the usual suspects for this kind of thing: Wal-Mart, Toyota, Federal Express, etc. My team and I attempted something different: Nintendo. At that time, a game company was an unconventional choice for a thesis, and that made things more difficult at first. Gaming was (and still is) my passion, however, and as time passed, the challenge turned into pure enjoyment.
When it was presentation time, our team managed to effectively convince a hesitant audience (a group of professors) that Nintendo’s far-fetched (at the time) product strategy could and would be successful. Researching and presenting about something I was passionate played a large role in making a difficult presentation convincing and natural.
For another example, take a look at these slides from one of my lectures as a graduate teaching student.
Please keep in mind that I made them back in 2004, so although it’s not the most beautiful presentation (my current presentations are a lot less wordy), it should illustrate my point. It’s not every day that one combines Final Fantasy with corporate strategy, but doing so led to engaged, and motivated students.
So the next time you are facing a tough presentation, take a moment to consider how you can inject it with passions. Doing so will not only make your presentation go more smoothly, but it will also make it a lot more fun for both you and your audience.
Lastly, if you are already using this technique, please share your ideas and advice in the comments section below.