Whoever told you that presenting to a group of people is easy, does not know what he or she is talking about. Coming up with a brilliant idea is not a problem. The way in which it comes across to your audience is what makes a difference. Presenting to a group of people can be a daunting exercise - a trial of fire - but one which you emerge from as a more confident communicator, who is able to connect with a diverse range of people.
I recently attended a meeting where a presentation was being given. The presenter was visibly nervous, well-dressed and had well-prepared information. Unfortunately, it can be very challenging in getting a hold on ones nerves during these situations. Everyone has a different way of dealing with nerves when in front of an audience or a large group of people. At the end of the day, whether you imagine everyone being naked; down a few shots of scotch or tell a joke to break the ice, it is important that you can control your nerves and are able to get your point across in the best way possible. Yes, we are always selling ourselves and even when we think we are not, we still are.
I always tell my clients that when they speak, they must imagine that it is as if a river is flowing from their mouths. Your body, thoughts, speech and body language are all interconnected. They must all flow in unison, each being a part of the greater whole and should mimic the ebb and flow of the ocean and its waves. It is very interesting how the sound of water can be used to calm, and on the other hand too much or too little can have negative results. So too with communication - and presentations. Just allow your mind, soul, body and language to flow as easily and continuously as a river and so too will the presentation.
Correct posture, positive facial expressions and gestures as well as engaging with the audience are some of the tools in the proverbial basket that allow you to influence a person or group of people whether it is an idea that you are selling or presenting a financial report at a shareholders meeting. The verbal and non-verbal elements in any presentation must match, When they are contrary to each other, the audience becomes confused, creating doubt, mistrust and disbelief in the presenter and the message that is being conveyed. People by their very nature veer towards consistency; and it is the consistency between what you say and what you do that will win over even the most hostile audience.
Michelle is a speech and communication specialist working with companies and individuals in South Africa and internationally.