Forward Science Blog
Tips for Taking the Floor Confidently
Did you know that 3 out of 4 people suffer from speech anxiety? That means 75% of the population is terrified of public speaking. Unfortunately for most professionals, this phobia is an unavoidable part of their job.
Forward Science has a team of seasoned presenters that make up the “ Elite Speakers” group. This group is made up of subject matter experts at Forward Science and they each are specifically trained to present at our continuing education courses-- some of these courses lasting up to 4 hours!
To help alleviate the fear of public speaking, we asked our seasoned speaking professionals to create a list of tips and tricks for taking the floor confidently, and here are a few:
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practicing your presentation multiple times is essential to a successful public speaking engagement. The more familiar you are with the content, the more comfortable you will look and feel while presenting. Once you can transition directly into the next slide without looking at it, you are ready to present.
Choose your audience wisely…
To gain different types of feedback, you must practice presenting to different audiences:
- Subject Matter Expert: Present to a subject matter expert who will confirm the validity of all your materials.
- Family / Friends: Perform in front of a relative/spouse/friend who will point out your presenting quirks. They’ll be honest about your use of filler words, fidgeting and stuttering.
- You: You are your own worst critic: record yourself giving your presentation for final tweaks.
Game Day Preparation
On presentation day, here are some tips from the pros:
- Check out the space beforehand, see where you’ll be speaking.
- Arrive early so that you’re fully set up and prepared when audience members arrive.
- Work out a few hours before. Release some of your nervous pent up energy-- you’ll like more at ease while speaking.
- Have a cocktail! Sometimes a glass of wine is just what you need to reduce your nerves. Just make sure not to overindulge!
Don’t be a perfectionist
Don’t make any changes 24 hours or less before your presentation. If you’ve worked on the material and rehearsed, there’s no use in making large changes right before you present-- it will just throw you off!
Dress for success
Always dress nicer than your audience. A more formal appearance will establish credibility and show your audience that this opportunity is meaningful to you.
Know your audience
When creating your presentation, keep the demographics of your audience in mind. What will they want in-depth explanations on? What information is second nature to them? Build your content around your audience to help keep them engaged.
Public speaking is nothing more than sharing a story. Rather than listing facts and statistics, frame your presentation as a story. Including anecdotes, jokes and personal experience makes for a more interesting presentation results in a more engaged audience.
- Images speak louder than words. The less your slides say, the more interesting they are. If there’s too much information on the slide, the audience will immediately disengage.
- When creating your slides, stick to the 7, 7 rule: no more than 7 bullets down and no more than 7 words across (or less).
Is it Question time?
When it comes to questions, set ground rules at the beginning. Make sure your audience knows if you would like to wait until the end of the presentation for questions, or if you’d like to answer them as they come along.
Final tips and tricks
- Practice in presenter mode, literally! Use the presenter mode on your computer every time you practice to ensure you are comfortable with the way your slides and notes look while presenting.
- When an audience member asks a question, make sure to repeat it back to them before answering. This gives you time to think about your answer while ensuring that the rest of the audience heard what was asked.
- Pump up, if possible! Our elite speaker’s recommend finding your “walk up song” to get you excited before speaking. Think something upbeat, exciting and motivating!
If you are interested in hearing a Forward Science Elite Speaker present one of our hot topics like Sex, Drugs & Oral Cancer™ or The Power of Saliva™, email CE@forwardscience.com and include “Public Speaking Tips” in the subject line