First, pretend you’re not nervous even if you are. An audience can rarely tell you’re nervous if you don’t tell them or give any obvious signs of nervousness. If you can keep from fidgeting, rocking back and forth on your feet, staring at the audience with a scared look on your face, or saying, “I’m a little nervous right now,” people will see you as relaxed and professional. That might be surprising, but it’s true.
Keep in mind the main purpose of your talk. Even if it’s a presentation with a lot of details, if you keep your goal in mind, you’ll be less likely to get lost in your words. Maybe your goal is to persuade people to give a donation. Maybe you want to convince them of a new way of looking at a common problem. Maybe you want them to take some political action or take better care of their health. You might have forty PowerPoint slides or eighteen points you want to explain, but if you keep your main goal in mind it can guide you when you lose your place or forget a detail. Explaining every slide isn’t as important as getting them to take the action you want.
If you use any kind of visual aid, don’t let it distract your audience from what you’re saying. Photos and graphs are fine because people can take in the information while listening to your words. But if you pass out written materials or show a PowerPoint slide with lots of words on it, people might stop listening to you so they can take in the other material. You don’t want that. Only use materials that support your words. If you give out written materials, do that at the end.
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