Stage fright is something which most of us suffer from . Not many of us are comfortable being on a stage performing or delivering a talk to a large audience. could never overcome throughout my growing years. It was no different in my case. I was never under pressure for studies (Did reasonably well ) and was reasonably good in sports but getting on the stage was just a Big No for me. The fear of failure , of being laughed at, always got better of me and I avoided stepping on the stage throughout my school life.
But destiny always has something different in store. The profession I chose for myself demanded public speaking , making presentations or stage performance in some form or the other. With no alternative available I was left with no choice but to question my fear. It was not easy going at all. Those days there were no computers and presentations were done with the help of Over Head Projectors ( OHPs) with slides made on foils. Preparing the slides was a specialised task in itself.
In the initial years I used to try and memorise the script to the best of my ability and squeezed in as much details on the slides as possible, to help out, just in case the memory failed. There was nothing natural about it; very little connect with the audience with the mind more focused on the next line then on the people. Body language was generally very defensive rather non-existent most of the times. But then one learnt from the mistakes and the computers also came in.
The first lesson learnt was that presentations are not about memorising the script but more about owning the script. The script has to be well researched keeping in mind the mandate of the talk and the intellect level of the target audience. You cannot afford to be wrong with facts and names. Once you own the script you don’t have to worry about the audience and there may not be a need to carry a script on stage.
Prepare well and develop your own unique style of delivery. Use the rostrum if you must , I do not like being bound behind a lecture stand. I feel more at ease , hands free for making gestures ( should be natural) . I personally do not like carrying any script for reference. One should be as natural as possible. This comes with practice and experience.
Presentation has to be lively to keep the audience interested / engaged for the desired length of time and driving home the point. The best way is to keep the talk short and simple. Reading from a script is likely to cut off the audience. It’s the novelty and the uniqueness which will hold the attention of the people.
Use slides if you wish but keep the text to the minimum. Ensure the fonts are readable by the audience. If you have used some quotes or data, give time to the audience to read. Use some good, relevant pictures / movie clips if you can.
Humour, wherever used should be natural and relevant to the subject being covered. Examples should be contemporary, to make the presentation realistic. The younger generation cannot generally relate to the examples from history or mythology.
Confidence flows from preparation. Good research of the topic and the audience will go a long way in preparation of an effective presentation.
“Be unique , Prepare well…..You will never fail in catching the imagination of the audience”