“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is…

public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” +Jerry Seinfeld

Public speaking has always seemed like one of those rare gifts bestowed by the great creator onto a select number of lucky people to most of the world; however, I would argue that just like painting or a professional basketball player.  It has far less to do with a devine intervention and more to do with practice and overcoming fear.  Even today after doing dozen of presentations there is always the same fear that rises from the depths and causes some level of anxiety.  What I chose to do instead of pretending that this wasn’t going to happen was to address it head on.

In the first few slides of my presentations you’ll find it.  First the place holder slide to have on screen before I’m introduced, this allows me to have the presentation up and ready to fire through, without sitting on the introduction slide.  This is usually some quote that I want people to read without seeing the title of the presentation, something to warm their minds up to the presentation.

In the second slide I point out that at any point in the presentation I encourage people to stop me and ask questions.  This helps people relax, so it feels less formal and more like a conversation.

death by powerpoint

Death By PowerPoint

The third slide (which admittedly I stole the concept from Bob Garfield‘s presentation on The Chaos Scenario), instructs the audience to take their cellphones out of their pockets and make sure that they are turned ON.  ”If I say something interesting, if I say something intriguing, if I trip and fall, please, please, please share it on Facebook and Twitter!  Because if you find it interesting, intriguing, or funny…someone else likely will benefit from it as well.”  This really helps people relax and understand that we’re about to go into a different style of presentation that the Death By Powerpoint that business people have grown accustom to.

The fourth introductory slide, let’s people know that I am apt to be very nervous for the first 5 to 10 minutes…”so please pretend not to notice.”  This usually gets a few laughs and smiles from the audience.  It goes back to the concept that people like people who are willing to put their guard down and poke fun at themselves.  It also helps me relax when I made people laugh.  It’s not presenter and audience.  It’s Richard and new friends.

So first, I would encourage all of you who are doing presentations to think if some of these concepts could improve what you’re doing.  Second, I want you to take this idea this and look at how this could apply to your business.  What are the areas of your business that you’ve been avoiding discussing?  What are the things that if you became completely transparent about, would make people more sympathetic to your endeavors?

What if we chose to do the opposite more often?


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