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STOP STRESSING: Three tips to stay stressless while presenting [By Andrew Ford]

Do you love presenting in front of people? Standing in the spotlight, all eyes on you, hanging on every word, just waiting on some universal truth to spill forth from your mouth.  Umm, err, ahh....Phew it's enough to make an Eskimo sweat.

If you are like 90% of people who count the fear of public speaking right up there, loosing your smart phone, these quick three tips might be helpful.

Stop Stressing

Tip 1. Control what you can control: 

'Ahhh..deep breath' he says, holding his chin and nodding knowingly!  Unfortunately this isn't my line, I got it from Confucius at Content World 2010, who said, "when presenting using a Macbook Air always bring spare VGA and HDMI adaptor cables". Powerful stuff. I know he said it because I was in the audience. He nailed it BTW!

Half the presentation is won before you even enter the room. It's called preparation and it is kinda important to ensure you hit the mark with your material. The best presenter in the world, talking about an amazing topic is useless if the audience doesn't care about it.

Let me illustrate with an example. A speaker friend of mine did a paid gig and thought his material about bucket lists would rock. He had this great part where he would get the audience to draw 80 squares and cross them out for how old they were - making them realise that life was short. Unfortunately, the audience were retirees with an average age of 75. "Add another row" he said! Opps...

Ensure you know who the company is, the main executives in the room, the audience, the objectives, the room set up, AV requirements (always bring your own stuff) and of course build your own slides so you know them backwards.  I have a little form on my website (click here) for the people hiring me to fill in. It helps me to get prepared. Feel free to copy it :)

When you arrive on the day, get there super early. Get to know the audience, chat with them about their business and needs. See the room, get a feel for the space and set up. 

Nothing is worse that arriving in a rush and having to go straight into your presentation. I once was running late for a University lecture at RMIT. I ran across town and got there just in time, breathing heavy and sweating. Lucky for me they were filming this presentation for their overseas campuses. Imagine this, I walk in and there are 40 MBA students looking at me, lights are beaming heat and highlighting every pore, I have to set up with everyone watching and trying to subtly wipe the sweat from my brow and seem cool. Not! Seemed to go ok but not the ideal situation.

Tip 2. Less is more

Another pearl of wisdom! I know, right. I learnt this from Gandhi who rocked Social Media World in 2014 and said to me "Too much powerpoint killed a good story". Profound. 

Visual aids are there to help the audience follow your story, not to tell the story. That's your job. No one remembers all the facts and information from presentations, we might remember 2 or 3 points. But we can retell a story if it is engaging, funny and heart felt. Take your material and make a story from it! It doesn't matter if it is a business presentation, you can still reinforce the points you made with examples and anecdotes. 

Remember that every time you transition a slide, the audience is taking their attention off you and looking at the screen. What a perfect time to break their concentration and let them just have a quick peak at Instagram...

Tip 3. It's about them, not you!

This gold came from an unlikely source. Sometimes it's hard to trust Memes on Facebook but this one looked reliable. It was from one of my favourite speakers Abraham Lincoln and he posted that: "To communicate effectively, stand in the shoes of those who listen." Good one Abe! 

Remember why you are at the front of the room, it's to share a message with others. Don't stay in your head and follow your own movie reel. Be present with the audience and focus your energy and attention to them. See how they are reacting and adjust your material accordingly. This only comes when you have prepared well, so revise Tip 1

The measure of a good presenter is how much the audience was impacted. It's emotional impact and recall of the content. Make it about them! Engage them with questions, get them to do activities, encourage them to think and tell stories that make them feel. 

Everyone likes to talk about themselves, and they might be interested in your story. But remember to help them apply this learning from yours to their own lives. That's the key.

Well there you have it, twenty years of learning in 500 words. If you follow my quick 3 tips to presenting, you will stop stressing about presenting and embrace it as the opportunity to build your brand and share valuable thoughts when you are next asked to step up the microphone. 

As a last thought from my good friend Thor when I was last in Asgard "the power is in your hands" he quipped. I think he was talking about a hammer or something, but you get the idea.

Andrew Ford

Marketing expert Andrew Ford, the founder of Social Star, has discovered the secret of ‘Powerful Branding’. With a fire for unleashing people’s inner brand and developing business models to generate profit from an individual’s passions, Andrew leverages ground-breaking digital and social media marketing techniques to create digital strategies for clients to attract maximum opportunities. Having established a strong name for himself in the field, Andrew blends traditional business techniques with now-necessary tools for entrepreneurs to achieve scale, quality, and influence in their niche. Andrew’s comprehensive business background and qualifications consist of a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) (RMIT 2003), a Graduate Certificate in Management (MBA Executive Program, University of Sydney 2005), and a Masters of Entrepreneurship and Innovation (Swinburne University 2011). Continually on the cutting edge of his own education, Andrew has tested his marketing theories in forums such as the BCG Business Strategy Competition, which he won in 2005 against all Victorian MBA schools, and the Venture Cup Business Plan Competition (Swinburne University 2003), which he won in the Masters category. With experience working at Hewlett-Packard, Sensis (Telstra) and IBM, Andrew also has mentored dozens of junior staffs to help them achieve their professional goals. Meeting and influencing high-profile public figures helped Andrew to realise just how many professionals require more understanding and control of their public brands or appearance, and need help with the skills to use the many amazing free tools at their disposal to generate success. At Social Star, Andrew consults with clients to uncover their personal brand – both where it is today and where it can be tomorrow – and refine and define how that should be displayed in social media in order to attract their perfect target audience. Andrew mentors his clients to rapidly grow their business’ audiences, resulting in larger potential client bases and higher revenue. Applying formulas that integrate over twenty years of Andrew’s business experience and fifteen years of formal business education, Social Star specialises in building clarity and velocity for clients’ brands using the ‘Understand, Build and Leverage’ methodology. ‘Having a Personal Business enables people to have an authentic, congruent connection with their valued clients and partners, using their brand as the bridge,’ says Andrew. ‘I’m highly driven to work with the new breed of entrepreneurs and small business owners – people who have a passion for making the world a better place. Traditional business models are stepping aside as people follow their innermost dreams and my role is to see them operate within their values while creating wealth. Some people think you have to sacrifice what you love to be successful in your business, yet it is actually the opposite. Follow your passion and success will come.’ Lecturing at Swinburne University from 2009 to 2011 on brand dynamics and digital marketing, presenting at numerous conferences, and consulting to hundreds of clients, Andrew has seen his philosophy work that if you follow your unique path, based on your skills, experience, values and goals, you will automatically attract the opportunities you desire and achieve the success you deserve. Living his mantra, Andrew has created a successful business and attracts high-profile clients including musicians, athletes, authors, models, entrepreneurs, professionals and small business owners, helping them find their ‘why’ in their business and fulfilment in their lives. Business for Andrew is more than work, it’s personal. Running a personal business means that he is able to fulfil all of his values rather than separating his life from work. It supports his two boys while providing social opportunities, educational development, fitness opportunities, spiritual fulfilment and many valuable friendships. Social Star has now become the vehicle for Andrew to crystallise his mission in the world, to help people love what they do, supporting his ‘why’, that if more people loved what they did, the world would be a better place.