The SSS of Presenting and Why You Need To Know It
Sometimes the first minute of a presentation can be the most nerve wracking!
This is why during our Presentation Skills training programmes, both virtual and in-person, we spend time talking about what we call the SSS of presenting. These are 3 quite simple, yet often overlooked, key things to do before diving straight into your presentation. Not only will they help you feel more confident, but they will also help you look more confident to your audience.
So, what is the SSS of presenting?
S – Settle
When presenting in front of a group of people, be it virtual or face to face, you might feel the need to start talking the second you get up and launch straight into what you have to say (probably with the aim of getting it over with as soon as possible!)
This can give the audience the sense of being rushed… which is one thing you don’t want them to feel. You want them to take notice of what you are saying and connect with you.
Therefore, before you start your presentation, just take a moment or two to settle yourself.
If you are presenting face to face, this might mean moving to the front of the room. Placing your water in the right place, ensuring you are well positioned to see your slides and your audience.
And breathe! Take one or two breaths before you speak, this settles the heart rate, creates an air of expectation, and gives you that second to choose a real word to start with rather than eh, um, so, or okay.
If you are presenting virtually, via a webcam, try and ensure that you are logged in and are set up correctly, a few minutes before your audience starts logging in. However, you might find that this is not always possible with back-to-back meetings and maybe others at home using the laptop for their own online meetings, lectures or classes. If you can log in a few minutes early, this will give you enough time to double check that your audio and camera are working well, and that your slides (if you are using them) are all ready to go when you are.
And, as I said already, breathe! Choose a real word rather than a filler word to start.
So remember, settle yourself, it is a small action but gives big results!
S – Stand (or sit) straight
Whether you are presenting in person or virtually, having the correct posture is not only important to your overall appearance, but it can also affect your vocal impact too!
Standing tall gives a great first impression of confidence to your audience and is a really good way to get your presentation off to a good start. By standing up straight, it will be easier to take deeper breaths, therefore calming you down!
“But what about presenting virtually? This hardly applies?” I hear you think.
Actually, it does apply – BIG time!
For example, you could choose to stand while presenting virtually – why not? Just ensure that you raise your camera (with books, shoe boxes etc.) to ensure it is at eye level.
When we run our virtual in-company programmes, we suggest to clients that they experiment with standing when presenting in front of a camera. It can give you more energy. You will also find that using hand gestures come more naturally to you when you present standing up.
However, if standing while presenting virtually does not feel right for you, then you can certainly opt to sit. To be honest, this is what most of our clients find preferable.
So, if you prefer to sit. Sit tall. No slouching on your elbows. Sitting tall helps you to look more confident. Also, by taking up more space it has been scientifically proven to help you feel more confident. Don’t just take my word for it – see Amy Cuddy’s TED talk which explains the science behind why this is the case.
S – Smile
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that “everyone smiles in the same language”… so why do we forget to do it as soon as we get up to present?
Once you’re in position and are ready to start speaking, smile!
Smiling lets the audience see you are relaxed and happy to be there. It will also help you feel more relaxed and confident… especially if you can see your audience smiling back at you.
If you are presenting virtually, don’t think you don’t need to smile just because you can’t see your audience… remember they can still see you. You still need to create and maintain that connection with them, and smiling is a good way to do it.
We recommend smiling at the start of the presentation and at any appropriate time during it, but please don’t stand (or sit) there with a smile plastered on your face throughout the whole presentation as it will just look fake!
Equally, if smiling would be inappropriate for your content – e.g. delivering bad news, best to leave it out.
The SSS of presenting is just one of the topics we cover in more detail on our 1 day group virtual presentation skills training programme. If a lack of confidence is holding you back when it comes to presenting, either virtually or in-person, then why not join us on our next open masterclass.