I will never forget walking in to a room full of 200 of my colleagues and being asked to give a 10-minute presentation on the fly. That’s right – with no preparation or forethought, my supervisor asked that I share about a new idea that my team was implementing. My stomach dropped and anxiety quickly began to rise as I frantically tried to come up with something to say. The meeting seemed to move at a rapid pace as my time to present quickly approached. They called my name, and it felt as though the last hour of frantically trying to prepare disappeared, and I was left thinking what the heck am I going to say?!
If you’ve ever found yourself in this position, you know exactly how I felt. The fear of looking dumb and the anxiety of not knowing what to say was overwhelming. The reality is that as a leader and presenter, the odds are if you have not yet been asked to present on the fly, it’s coming.
That’s why the team at Ethos3 has put together a few tips on what to do when this moment hits you.
Tip # 1: Just Relax
One of the leading causes of losing your train of thought is anxiety. As your adrenal begins to pump, your mind begins to race, and keeping your thoughts straight becomes harder and harder. If you are asked to present on the fly, resist the urge to become stressed; instead, try your best to relax and enjoy the experience. After all, you are being asked because you are seen as the expert, so let that experience shine!
Tip # 2: Tell a Story
With little time for preparation, presenting supporting facts and figures can be difficult. But stories can carry the same authority if used correctly. Not only will a story be easier to remember since it was an experience you had, a story also carries with it the weight of the data that you may not be able to remember in the moment. Be sure to share a story that is compelling and passionate in order to elicit an emotional response from your audience.
Tip # 3: Laugh It Off
One of the easiest ways to win your audience over in a last-minute scenario is to be honest about the last-minute ask. By opening up with a joke about being asked to present at the last minute, you’ll elicit empathy, compassion, and understanding from your audience which will lower their expectations, and they will be far more forgiving of any quirks or hang-ups that may arise during your presentation.
Tip # 4: Trust Yourself
If you are being asked to present last minute, someone views you as the expert on the subject you are presenting. Trust them, and trust yourself. You have already done the hard work, and the preparation is inside of you, but it requires a level of trust to bring that out. In these circumstances, confidence is key. So, act the part, and if you have to, “fake it till you make it.”
Presenting on the fly can be an overwhelming and downright terrifying experience. However, by implementing these 4 tips, you can walk into your next last-minute presentation confident and ready to wow your audience. Not only will this set you apart from your coworkers, but it will show your audience that you truly are the expert and they should take notice.
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