Do You Have A Presentation Ritual? If Not, Try One of These

BY Jessica Helinski
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Presentations require a lot of work, in regard to both style and content. While you may have a flawless presentation on paper, your attitude and energy can ultimately determine its success. And, every presenter has different needs when it comes to prepping for an audience. “Some people get jittery and anxious before they talk; they need to spend time calming themselves down before they go onstage,” writes Nancy Duarte in a recent HBR​.org article. She adds that “other people want to make sure they have extra energy when they’re in front of an audience.”

Duarte shares four different ways to prepare for a presentation. She encourages presenters to consider how each matches up with their own personality and feelings about presenting. Below is just one of the rituals she discusses:

The Empathy Ritual

Duarte suggests this ritual if you:

  • Are speaking to an audience you don’t relate to
  • Get stage fright and clam up while speaking, losing your personality
  • Have high-​stakes content that simply has to resonate

This ritual will help you connect with your audience while speaking, and it will humanize them. This is important because the more you can relate to your audience, the less fearful you will be of speaking in front of them. So, before your presentation, consider approaching different audience members to simply say hello. Or, find one or two faces to familiarize yourself with so you won’t feel like you’re addressing total strangers. Another tip is to take a seat in the audience or at the table prior to speaking and see things from their vantage point. Any of these little actions can help you relate to the audience on a deeper level, which will soothe your own nerves when you’re front and center.

When it comes to prepping for a talk, one size does not fit all,” Duarte notes. Look over her examples and find the one that best fits your own needs and scenario (you may even find that a combination of them works best). As she adds, “the key is to tap into what makes you uniquely your best, right before you walk on stage.”