And here is a podcast on the subject thanks to The Bean Counter .
I wish I could tell you that I never got nervous before a presentation.
I wish I could say that practice would calm your nerves...
...Or that standing a particular way would make it less scary.
...Or that drinking chamomile tea would soothe the jitters.
I wish I had a magic potion or a mystery cure or an infomercial promising the cure for stage fright.
And while some people might tell you that they have found their own answer, I don't have a cure.
I am nervous every single time I speak. Whether I am sharing my thoughts in a room with 5 of my coworkers or an audience of thousands. I get nervous every time I get ready to push the publish button on my blog posts, for goodness' sake.
I am always nervous when I am getting ready to speak. I can't even eat before a presentation. My stomach is always in a knot.
But here's what I CAN tell you. All of the years of practice, of presenting over and over again, of wanting to flee, but somehow showing up, have taught me one thing. I can survive the panic. I will not die if I miss a word, or skip a slide, or don't get a laugh (although that does kill me inside).
So while the fear has never subsided, for me, it is a good thing. It is a sign of how much I care about my audience. Every time I get ready to speak, I worry that I haven't given them enough value. That fear makes me want to practice more, to find one more interesting tidbit, to rework my introduction. It drives me to try harder.
And while I haven't learned how to eliminate the fear, I have learned to trust myself as a presenter and to trust that my audience will share in the experience.
So you think your topics are boring? Scared that you will bomb on stage? I'm here to tell you that you can have a blast making them otherwise.
Here are some of my latest topics.
Sage Summit July 29th and 30th
Wine Industry Technology Symposium (WITS) June 30th and July 1
These are my thoughts after listening to all of the great speakers at the ShipCompliant DIRECT conference today. There was not a single bad presenter in the group. Whenever I attend a conference, I spend half my time listening to their ideas and the other half evaluating their speaking style.
Here's what I learned from today's presenters (including the MC's and Moderators):
Both of my children arrived on this earth with keen visual powers and an advanced, almost photographic memory. They see and remember everything. Had they both not looked exactly like their father, I would have wondered if they were my children at all.
As far back as I can remember, I have always been terrible with names. But it is worse than that.
I seem to have skipped major moments of my childhood. I have vivid patches and then holes. As one of four children, there was much to remember and many points of view applied to every major event. But there are times when I have absolutely no connection to events that involved me. My brother tells of the time I sat on his ukulele and reduced it to sawdust. Who? Me? But I clearly remember the day I fell off the top of the slide and then rode my bike all the way home to tell Mom about my near death, losing-my-breath, experience.
Lest you add your own sinister interpretation to my tale, there was no trauma beyond the occasional spilling of milk that could have caused me to wipe out portions of my childhood life. I had a wonderful middle class childhood. I did have to share a room with my sister, but I’m not sure that counts as major trauma. I don’t have anything awful that needs forgetting, except that time I slammed my little brother’s finger in the front door. I will never forget that moment or the fact that I was mad about something and slammed it with a mean spirit. I am sure I was forgiven years later when I knelt upon that velveteen kneeler and confessed my sins to Monsignor Baum through that leather-and-furniture–polish-scented little door at St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
But now I am a grandmother at 53 and I don’t want to forget any moment of the life that lies ahead or behind me. I wonder if I have been carrying the Alzheimer’s gene from birth; if sections of my brain that weren’t crammed full of math equations and Trigonometry were already failing. I fear for the ever widening gaps that might be filling my brain - erasing letters and words from my brain even as I sit here and type. And if my memories fade, who will remember that I never had a great memory, that I have always been this way.
I hope that if I fade, if some of my already feeble brain cells go dark, that all of the negative memories will be the ones that are first erased, the fears of failure, the mistakes I made as a mother, the words that slipped out unattended. I pray that if my memories fade, I will be left with only the good ones. And please, dear God, let me keep all of the funny stuff. I pray that my un-artistic brain ends up making my life into something that resembles a painting where everything is blurred and smudged in the form of a fine pastel–colored print. Perhaps this is at last how I too become a great artist like my son and sister.
I want to vividly remember the moment my children arrived, those moments of babyhood when they held to my shoulder for dear life, the smell of their freshly bathed skin, the moment they cried with joy at the Christmas puppy that appeared in a stocking. I want to forever prize my time in the delivery room with my daughter as she brought forth her own precious miracle. I need to hold on to that road trip across the country with our Basset Hound, when we stopped at every moccasin store seeking out new colors and styles. I want to remember my son releasing his artistic talent to the world. Will I remember that clay soldier that looked every bit like the ones unearthed in China, the one his sixth grade teacher refused to acknowledge? Every painting that he has done is indelibly inscribed on my heart – but will I remember them? I don’t want to forget the moment he turned scraps of fabric into a gorgeous ottoman in less than a day. I want to remember our stop that day in a casino in Reno, when we didn’t try our hand at the slot machine but conspired instead to place a $5 bill in a corner of the casino hoping to make one person that day feel lucky.
And finally, I want to remember the snow that fell that day in May, the day before the accident I can never forget.
You have five minutes to make an impact. The slides are controlled by a timer. You are terrified and nervous and you have way too much to say for five minutes. What do you do?
Take a page from Mary Longacre's playbook and face your fears head on. Bring those debilitating fears, the ones we all have, into the light and thereby remove their power. Share photos from your past, memories of being the shyest kid in the room, and add heart and humor to your delivery. The result? A memorable, heartwarming, rockstar presentation at Doug Sleeter's Accounting Solutions Conference in Las Vegas. Mary's presentation was just one in an amazing line up of 13 presenters in the Sage Ignite session but in my view, it was the best.
Here's what makes a presentation like Mary's , delivered in 5 minutes, memorable:
1. Images. Mary shared pictures of her own life that supported her message. She didn't use a bunch of bullet points to tell the story.
2. Heart. She spoke from the heart, she was real and vulnerable. We all wanted Mary, at one time the "second shyest person in her class", to succeed as a presenter. We were with her every step of the way.
3. Structure. Mary's story had a beginning a middle and an end just like every good story. And it included a happy ending - Mary being on that stage.
In addition to being a fabulous presenter, Mary happens to be one of the smartest people on the planet and an expert in QuickBooks and Method. She shares her insights in a quietly understated but powerful way.
We could all learn a lot from Mary.
Have you ever thought about using a washing machine to make your point?
It certainly worked out well for this TED presenter.
Rosling could have started off with a bunch of boring statistics. But he didn't. He made it personal by first connecting his message to his family history and then he brought in the data. As a result, he made his point, kept you entertained and clearly had a good time.
I will never look at my dirty laundry the same way again.
Do you lock yourself in a room, chain yourself to your desk and try to force a new idea to appear? Occasionally, I find myself resorting to what I like to call 'teeth grinding" exercises where I attempt to force a new idea to appear. What happens instead is that I find a million and one ways to procrastinate at my desk and end up avoiding the task entirely. Occasionally, I can latch on to a good idea this way, but they are seldom my best.
It is often when I leave my desk, go out and shop, take a drive, a walk or just meet people for lunch that the ideas appear. Your brain needs stimulation. It needs room to expand. As far as I know, creating enamel sawdust by grinding your teeth isn't going to lead to any new ideas. Maybe you should consider this an investment. Perhaps down the road, the quiet time you spend in the dentist's chair getting your fancy veneers will lead you to some new creative insights. Or maybe the laughing gas will inspire you in a new direction.
But I wouldn't count on it if I were you.
When it comes to making a great speech, there are a couple of important elements:
But if you don't have a story to tell, none of that matters.
I can't count the number of times I have watched amazing, likeable presenters who had incredible delivery, great visuals, and an audience full of supporters fail miserably on stage.
How in the world is that possible?
It's all about their story.
Their message didn't take me anywhere. They rambled around different images, charts, graphs or content but when the walk through their words ended, I didn't know what they wanted me to know, do, or feel. I wanted to follow them but they weren't going anywhere.
There was no ending,no wrap up, no point. They had a lot to say but it didn't MEAN anything.
When you make a presentation, give a talk, or write a story, start at the beginning, folks.
What is your point? What do you want to say? Why does your talk matter? Narrow down your presentation and your message so there is a single theme - not 5 or 6 little ideas you want to share.
You only need one theme with three supporting points and you are finished.
What's the big deal about giving a TED(x) talk, anyway? It's just another talk, right?
Well, kind of. But the premise of TED and TEDx (independently organized TED events) are to spread ideas worth sharing.
That imposes two big burdens on you as a presenter:
1. You need an idea.
2. It needs to be worth spreading.
Extra pressure if you have ever watched any TED.com video and noticed the 3,000,000 views and the incredibly talented presenters who earn that kind of following.
When you first agree to give the presentation, (in my case there was wine involved) you kind of get swept up in the moment. And then, once you have been accepted to speak it hits you. There is no way in the world you can do it. It's impossible.
A. You don't have any ideas.
B. Who in the world is going to want to spread your idea, if you can in fact actually come up with one?
C. You have to stand on an actual stage and memorize your entire presentation.
D. You haven't done anything that changed the world: you don't have a PhD, you haven't cured halitosis, and you haven't built an MRI machine out of tin foil and an orange can in the middle of the desert.
But that is precisely why you will be good at your talk. You are a normal person with ideas that CAN change the world. They needn't be grand ideas. They just need to touch one person at a time.
Don't you relate best to someone like you who has overcome ordinary limitations? I don't know about the world you live in, but the one I currently inhabit is filled with people just like me. My friends aren't CEOs or brain surgeons, inventors, or even the United States Poet Laureate. They are people facing the ups and downs of life and doing the best they can.
So get crafting that killer talk of yours:
And it doesn't have to be perfect! Mine certainly wasn't.
Did you notice the moments when I forgot my next words? When I spoke, I was looking at just the images you saw behind me with no notes or prompts. Occasionally the exact words left me. I just kept going until they reappeared, which thankfully they did. That's where the practice comes in.
CPA, CITP, CSPM
Author, speaker, trainer
> 50% Countess of Communication, Brotemarkle,Davis Co.
> 50% Writin', speakin', consultin'
How to hire me.
Author How to Make a Boring Subject Interesting : 52 ways even a nerd can be heard
I have a ton of other websites including my newest for Twitter newbies www.evenatwit.com
Originally from Greenville, SC, I now live in Napa, California.
I am an accountant on a mission. I want to permanently remove the blight of BORING that has attached itself to members of my profession.
But the boring blight doesn't stop there. It's everywhere. I've found it in wineries (although it's a tad more palatable when served with alcohol), in science labs, even in Art museums. And technology people carry the "B" gene too. But the condition need not be fatal.
I lecture around the country to
accountants and technology
audiences and I have a ball.
I was a partner in an Atlanta CPA firm when I realized technology was
my true passion and I have been fighting the nerd versus geek battle ever since.
Through some stroke of absolutely amazing luck, I now find myself in Napa -- the most gorgeous, hospitable place imaginable.
Are you on Twitter?
You can follow my nerdy life
there : evenanerd
I am a graduate of the Jeff Justice Comedy Workshoppe and the Persuasive Speaker course taught by Speechworks. I highly recommend both of these organizations. I have also taken training from the amazing Lynda Spillane.
I am not unbiased, nor do I wish to be. I have done work for anyone and everyone in the software industry or the accounting profession. If I am not impressed by what you do or can't find an angle that is interesting or unique, I won't work for or with you. And if you are stodgy or boring, there are not enough dollars or even euros to make me help you.
See samples of my
Other websites you might enjoy: