This piece of advice changed how I give presentations

A few years ago I was given the opportunity to present my research on a large (to me) stage. It was part of a lecture series that had hosted some of the biggest names in my field, and it was to be broadcast via videoconference across the province. 

I was honoured to be invited, and excited to share my work. I was also TERRIFIED. Not because I didn't enjoy public speaking—I love public speaking. I'm a former theatre nerd, so it wasn't about stage fright.

The stakes were high. I wanted to sound like I knew my stuff. I wanted to impress my colleagues. I wanted to give a talk that people would remember, not one that they'd sleep through.

So I worked my ass off. I used every trick I knew to make my presentation interesting: I told a story, I used images instead of text-heavy slides, I memorized my presentation, I made a handout with the take-home points.

I was ready.

And then I rehearsed it in front of my boyfriend. It went well, but something was off. We both knew it.

The advice he gave me changed the way I gave that presentation, and it has changed every presentation I've given since.

He said, "It's good, but you're not having any fun. Just enjoy yourself."

He was right. I was nervous about screwing up, which made me flustered and boring.

So a few days later I did my best power pose, I walked into that conference room, and I enjoyed the hell out of my experience.

And I knocked it out of the park. I gave the best talk that I could give.

Don't get me wrong: I was nervous AF. But instead of channeling that nervousness into fear, I channeled it into excitement. I loosened up. And I had a WAY better time.

All of the prep work, all of the memorization and rehearsals—it wouldn't have felt nearly as satisfying if I'd been worried the whole time. And I truly believe that even if I hadn't had my best day, or if something had gone sideways, I still would have come away feeling good about what I did.

Because I had fun.

 

How could you shift from fear to fun in your next presentation? Tell me in the comments!