So you're asked to be a guest speaker. Presentation is a word that carries so much pressure, jitters, confusion, nervousness, and every other negative word in the dictionary that you can think. However, the one eerie feeling that tops it all is FEAR.
Remember, back in your school days, the most dreadful thing to bear was when the teacher would break the class up into groups for assignments? If the sentence had ended there, things would have been pretty easy, but then you'd hear her say ''presentations,'' and that's it. All your confidence would crumble to the ground, and you'd pray that the earth would swallow you whole.
And no, It's not an exaggeration. Because I know exactly how it feels to stand up in the middle of a huge crowd, trying to give your best but still, being smothered by the constant fear that something might go wrong. Fear of failing. Fear of forgetting what to say. Fear of dragging your presentation. Fear of boring the audience. Fear gets in the way of performance.
Okay, here is a reality check. It is life. Every business professional has to be a guest speaker at some point in their career. And what you plan on doing doesn't always work out. And to some extent, fearing that things might go wrong during your presentation is fine. Things can go wrong during your speech. But instead of going unprepared, technically and mentally, it is vital that beforehand, you have an idea of certain things that can go south.
Let me list down a few things that can go downhill during your guest speaker presentation:
POWER UP YOUR POWERPOINT PRESENTATION
You cannot deny that when fear is in the way, we tend to delay work. Regardless of how pumped up, you are about your upcoming guest speaker presentation; you will not start working on it till the last hour. Honestly, we are all guilty about it, but this is something that needs to be fixed if you want your presentation to be spot on.
Once you have created a rough draft of your presentation, convert it to PowerPoint and look at it twice to make sure that it is working correctly. A stitch in time saves nine! As a keynote speaker, I don't use PowerPoint because I find it is often a crutch. However, it is an excellent way to act as a visual clue to keep you on track during your presentation.
Just don't rely on it too much. People didn't come to a conference to look at slides they could have reviewed online; they came to see you. Make sure you use a readable font and don't overwhelm your slides with information. Practice doing your speech out loud with the PowerPoint slides to get the timing right.
Only use PowerPoint as a support for your message. It's essential you are clear on what that message is before you build your PowerPoint. During your speech, don't spend the whole time looking at the slides, make eye contact with people!
WHAT IS THAT SOUND!
Sound. Noise. There is a difference between both these words, so make sure that you preserve this difference and stay in the safe zone. When you are speaking, you need to pay attention to what you are saying, and your sound system must work. The sound should neither be too loud, or it will echo. It shouldn't be too low, or people will struggle to hear you and tune out
Make sure that you show up early before your presentation and test the AV with the sound technicians before people start arriving. Imagine that weird mic sound ringing in your ears. Yikes!
Let's not forget that there are a dozen other PowerPoint technical errors that can destroy your presentation, such as the lip and video sync. Again, it is better than you play the clips and make sure they are all functioning correctly. Better safe than sorry!
TACKLE THE HECKLERS
Here is something that will burst your bubble of perfection. Hecklers! When working with a crowd, you can't take your pick and choose only the best people to deliver your presentation in front of. And hecklers are rare, but they exist. At such times, it's better to ignore and tune them out. Alternately when giving a speech, you can say something jokingly to lighten the mood. But tread lightly, they are solely there to cause trouble, and you don't want to ruin your presentation. So sometimes, silence is the best answer.
Now you have a minute idea of things that can go wrong during your presentation. But that doesn't mean that you lose faith and give up altogether. Not at all! The whole idea is that even without difficulties, you can give such a colossal presentation that people clap and cheer on you for more!
Break a leg!