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Soft Skills: Presenting

ryhazerus profile image Ryhazerus ・4 min read

As an intern Software Engineer in The Netherlands I'm taking the opportunity to learn as much as possible as a student, especially soft skills. So the moment someone from HR came to me asking if I wanted to follow a presentation course so I would be better prepared for my end presentation I jumped to the opportunity to say yes.

TLDR;
Presenting is a combination of skills and if you can practice these skills and use them the next time you present, it will go great, and you will come out feeling energised and hungry for more.

  • Be ok with feeling uncomfortable
  • Everyone feels this way so calm down
  • Remember you already won
  • Enjoy the moment

The following is a collection of what I learned during this 4 day course with a professional coach.

Feeling uncomfortable

It's ok to feel uncomfortable! In fact it's going to help you during your presentation. How you ask? Well when you're uncomfortable your senses are heightened and you're more self aware of everything that's happening around you. This means that if someone has a look of confusion or you see someone wanting to ask something, you can adjust your presentation accordingly and act on whats happening around you. Feeling uncomfortable is good while doing a presentation, just don't let it overwhelm you and make you afraid. Acknowledge that you're feeling uncomfortable, take a breath or a (2 second) pause and continue.

This is very important to remember, you are the one giving the presentation. This means YOU and no one else controls the room. So if you want to stand there still for 10 seconds and just look around, do it! It often gets the crowds attention and gets the people more involved with the the story you're telling.

TIPS

  • Next time you're in a crowd of people just stand up and look around get used to having people around you and staring at you
  • Try giving small talks at work or in front of a group of people
  • Host a game-night for example and use the opportunity to stand in front of everyone and tell them you appreciate them coming

These little tips help you get comfortable around people and talking from a point of authority.

Everyone feels this way

Unless you have years of experience behind you or have been trained, almost everyone feels uncomfortable while giving a presentation. So just remember that it's normal and you can handle it. That person sitting in front of you acting all cool like its no biggie, if you put them in front of a stage they would probably be as nervous as you.

TIPS

  • Talk to your friends and ask them how they present, most of them you'll see have no idea what they're doing
  • Talk to professors or someone who regularly give talks and you'll hear that it all comes from experience or training and that at first you're most definitely going to be uncomfortable

Hearing other peoples stories will calm you down because you realise you're not in this alone.

Remember you already won

This is the tip that made me not be afraid of presenting in front a crowd of people anymore.You already won. You're there giving the presentation, you're the one on the stage, this is your moment.

They can't take that away from you. So before you present, get on stage, take a sip of water if you feel like it, look at the crowd and just smile. Because in that moment you have won and when you tell yourself that, it calms you down immediately, your mind registers that there is nothing to be afraid of and the most difficult part is over.

TIPS

  • Next time you have to give a presentation/talk or even in a meeting, just take a moment and look at everyone before you speak, use this moment to realise that this is your moment and no one else's, take control of the moment.

Enjoy the attention

Enjoy the experience and the attention. This is especially hard for people who feel insecure (like me). But enjoy the attention, stand there, let people look at you. Let them remember the name of the person who is giving the presentation. Because int his moment, you are the one they are listening to and you're the most important person in the room.

TIPS

  • While sitting next to a person you know, call them out, and when they look just stare at them and then laugh and act it out. This will improve your ability to handle unexpected situations and deal with embarrassment. The easier you can pull this off, the easier it will be when you make a mistake in a presentation and have to play off.
  • If you're a student, go stand in front of the class for example and look at everyone and let them look at you, try to feel comfortable just being in the moment.

Combining Everything

If you can combine all these skills, being ok with feeling uncomfortable, remembering everyone feels uncomfortable and enjoying the attention/moment. You will be able to walk into your next presentation feeling fully in control and ready to go. This however takes time, and effort, presenting is after all a skill and to get better we need to train to get good at it.


Thank you for reading and I hope you're able to find something useful in what I wrote. If you have any comments or critique I'll gladly hear it!


Disclaimer
I didn't go into detail about various topics as interacting with the audience, intonation, the various ways to start/end a presentation as I'm waiting to see how this post fares before I continue writing. So if you enjoyed it leave a comment saying you want to read the rest and I will probably make a series out of it then.

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