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kimchi's avatar

How do you do a presentation without embarassing yourself?

Asked by kimchi (922 points ) May 29th, 2014

I have to do a presentation tomorrow. And another one next week. However, I’m the FIRST one! On top of that, it’s an English project, and I’m not that good at it. The topic is about tasers, and I’m scared people will make fun of me. Also, the presentation will be about 4–8 minutes, and I’m way too scared. My head starts spinning, my hand starts shaking, I start sweating, and I can’t focus. The moment I go up there, I forget everything I’m about to say. Making eye contact is impossible. I’m honestly scared out of my mind! P.S. I know I already asked a question about this, but it wasn’t helpful.

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11 Answers

LuckyGuy's avatar

Stand tall, shoulders back and fake it ‘til you make it. Also, dress a little sharper than your norm.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Practice in front of a mirror multiple times. You’ll just have to be robotic about it. I took a sales job in school and that was the only way I survived. I’m a terrible salesman but I’m a decent public speaker now.

CWOTUS's avatar

What is the purpose of the presentation? That has a bearing on how you might address your audience.

That is, aside from the fact that it’s a presentation about tasers, are you in the business of selling tasers, or is this a presentation as part of a language or public speaking class where the purpose is to make a presentation as part of the course work? Or is it, perhaps, part of a science or technology class where the language / presentation skills are secondary, and your purpose is to educate the other class members on the topic? I will assume that this is a language / speaking class. In that case, consider that the rest of the class feels more or less like you do, and doesn’t look forward to their own performance later.

One way to dispel some of the anxiety is… to acknowledge it! If you can, make a joke out of it, so that the class will laugh, but “with you, not at you”. In the first place, the other class members (as I’m assuming this is a classroom setting) will have to make their own presentations and they are probably equally nervous, whether they say so or not. So acknowledge the truth of how you feel and make that public. Actually make it part of your presentation in some way. This will help to get the audience on your side and pulling for you to not actually do anything overt which should cause you to feel even worse.

And they won’t laugh at you unless you come across as fake, say, by pretending to be in total control of your emotions when you clearly are not.

Mark Twain, one of the most famous American writers, who also did world tours as a public speaker while he was one of the most well-known people on the planet, once stated something to the effect that there are two kinds of public speakers: those who admit that they are anxious, and liars.

kimchi's avatar

It’s a court case about tasers. Should tasers be used? Should they be allowed? etc.

trailsillustrated's avatar

It’s called Jack Daniels. That’s how I got through it.

BosM's avatar

Remember to breath deeply, it will calm you. Shallow breathing results in lightheadedness which causes confusion and anxiety.

If you’ve done your research and assembled your information logically then you are prepared. You need to believe what you are presenting and be confident.

Look at this as a way to teach or inform your audience. Well timed, subtle humor helps ease anxiety if you can find a way to incorporate it into your presentation.

Use key words on queue cards to help keep you on track. Remember 2–3 minutes before going on to breath deep, calming breaths and you will be fine. Good luck!

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Try to relax. I had notes on index cards but I didn’t really rely on them. Maintain eye contact with your audience, don’t um, and stay focused. I made a presentation to 250 people, and pulled it off big time. And I feel exactly as you do. But that was part of my job, so I did it. The main thing is don’t let the nerves win and be prepared.

muppetish's avatar

Take nice, deep breaths.

I have never thought of myself as a good public speaker. I always get nervous when standing in front of a big audience. However, I am able to give presentations and teach full-capacity classes without having a panic attack. If I can do it, then you can do it too!

First, and please take this to heart: it is very unlikely that your peers will make fun of you. In fact, it’s very unlikely that most of them will even listen to you, even if the instructor tries to make that a requirement. If these other students also have to give presentations of their own, then they will be far more nervous and concerned about their own work to worry about yours. This is as true for a high school class as it is for a graduate-level course.

Second, try to become comfortable enough with the material that you won’t need notes in front of you to discuss it. Don’t try to memorize a speech—just know your topic really well. Make notes on note cards and have them with you if you need them during the presentation (use big cards, large font), but the more you can discuss without having to look at them the more comfortable you will feel.

raven860's avatar

By not being scared of embarrassment.

Pachy's avatar

After decades of making presentations as an ad man, I’m passing a process that always worked for me: rehearse, rehearse, rehearse and then just stand up and let ‘er rip. It may not come out exactly as you planned but no matter—your audience won’t know the difference and chances are, what DOES come out will be better than what you rehearsed.

GOOD LUCK!!! I’m betting you’ll do great.

Mimishu1995's avatar

I agree with all the suggestion above.

I also want to add this: if I remember correctly, you use to ask another question about presentation right? Tell yourself you have already done a presentaion before, and you did it well, so now you can do it. It will at least boost your confidence.

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