Not everyone is a natural born public speaker. Formal presentations can even make some people sick. As one of my military clients once told me “I’d rather get shot at than speak in public.” This anxiety is especially true for introverts. That’s why a few presentation tricks can go a long way.
In fact, I’m an introvert but have learned to channel this nerve-wracking energy to my advantage. I recall surviving some of my first presentations in school and what carried me forward was conviction, clarity and little bit of creativity. Presenting is not my favorite thing to do because it doesn’t come natural to me. But I have to give presentations just like many introverts.
Fear can be overcome
Just because we’re anxious or afraid, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to give killer presentations. Over the span of my career, I’ve given hundreds of presentations and learned what works and what doesn’t. I’d like to take the time to share a few tips with my fellow introverts so that you too can leave the anxiety behind and start giving presentations with more confidence.
3 simple presentation tricks
1. Stick to a key idea. And make sure you state that idea clearly in a headline up front. Most people overlook this, yet it’s one of the simplest things you can do to make your message stick and your presentation stick out. We actually teach people to speak in headlines in our workshops. Imagine opening up a newspaper only to find there are no headlines. What are you thinking and feeling as the reader? You would have to read whole articles just to learn what they’re about. That’s not cool! Same thing with your presentation. When you start with a clear headline and stick to that key idea, you answer that vital and first question everyone has…”What are you really talking about?” Make sure your headline is:
- Brief – About 6-10 words
- Inviting – Makes the viewer want to know more without giving them everything
- Answers the question “what?” – If it’s just creative and tells us nothing, it will fall flat
The title of my blog post is my headline “Three killer presentation tricks for introverts”. I’ve given this same content in a presentation format and that headline always works.
2. Answer the big questions. Most of us dive right into the information and key points we want to make but forget that our audience has some basic questions. The big questions might seem obvious but are often never addressed, leaving people feeling empty handed or needlessly confused. Typically, a speaker should write down a list of 5-10 expected questions that the presentation needs to cover. Ranking them helps too. For example, there are some basic questions in this blog post we set out to address:
- What are we talking about? “Three killer presentation tricks for introverts”
- Why is this important? “Because we introverts fear public speaking, assume we’re not good at it and avoid it at all costs…even our careers!”
- What’s in it for the audience? “A few simple tools you can use that work every single time and give us the confidence to give killer presentations.”
3. Use visual examples. When I give presentations and when we teach BRIEF workshops, we always use short video clips as a way to make it more engaging. Video is also a great way to take some of the heavy lifting off of you and give you a break. All you need is a simple YouTube search.
I’d like to leave you with a little something to hopefully make you feel better about giving presentations. Here’s what not to do.
Preparation is everything
Okay that was a little strange, but it illustrates my point. If you’re not prepared, you’re much more likely to let that fear turn into a meltdown. So whether you’re an introvert or not: stick to a key idea, answer the big questions first and use visual examples where it makes sense. Do these three things and start giving killer presentations today!
If you found this helpful and are looking for more, check out our BRIEF online boot camp. It’s a new remote learning program we offer to teams help give more effective presentations, run efficient meetings, provide concise updates and more. Click here to learn more!
About the author: Joe McCormack is on a mission to help progressive organizations master concise communication. Joe works with fortune 500 companies and elite special operations units, is the founder of The Brief Lab and author of Brief: Make a Bigger Impact by Saying Less. Follow us on Twitter @TheBriefLab