Updated: Mar 6, 2020
By: Pontus F. Christoffersen
Pretty much anyone you ask could share a couple of pointers regarding presentation techniques. Thing is, most of the advice you’d get are not only things you probably already knew but are more often than not also fundamentally incorrect. So, to kill some of the myths and correct some common misconceptions, here are three prevalent mistakes we tend to do before or during a presentation - and what you should do instead to get better results.
Misconception #1: You need to prepare and memorize your body language.
This is amongst the dumbest advice out there. You never prepare or rehearse any gestures before a regular conversation yet they come to you naturally, but for some reason we’ve started to think that we need to do so before a presentation. Weird.
Result - you will appear 50% insecure and 50% fake.
"Anxiousness is your body’s response to not knowing how to deal with a specific situation."
Instead, what I want you to do is spend some time managing your nervousness. That's the main reason your body language freezes during presentations. We easily get uncomfortable and think more about how we are perceived than what we want to say. Here is something most people don’t know about nervousness, it’s actually quite easy to overcome. Anxiousness is your body’s response to not knowing how to deal with a specific situation. It’s not standing in front of a crowd per se that gets you uncomfortable, it’s the nightmare scenario you picture in you mind: ”What if I forget what to say and look like a fool?” The best way to overcome your nervousness is to answer three simple questions that’ll solve the following problem: if anything happens - what do I do then?
Ask yourself this:
What could go wrong during the presentation?
How can I prepare to make sure that doesn’t happen?
If it does happen anyway, what do I say or do in order to deal with the situation? When you know what to do when something goes wrong you’ll kill your own insecurity - and with no insecurity, nervousness cannot exist.
Misconception #2: You have to use all the time you’ve been assigned.
You've got 10 minutes to present, so you absolutely need to give a 10 minute presentation, right? Wrong. You only need to say what you need to say to get your message across. If you can do it in 6 minutes instead of 10, then do it. I promise you the audience will thank your it.
Misconception #3: Your goal is to appear as professional as possible when talking to your managers or clients.
It doesn't matter who the person is or what position they hold, we tend to much rather listen to someone who is being themself and who’ll use simple words or explanations, than a professional robot who does everything in their power to appear professional. Presenting a topic as yourself is powerful not only because of the relatability but because you’ll believe in what you’re saying - giving your presentation a more grounded feel.