Recently, I had the ‘pleasure’ and honour at presenting at CIPD HRD2013. This is a massive event, and any speaker at this event had earned their stripes. I.e. it is reserved for the creme de la creme of the HR profession. Well, and little old me. There is nothing as daunting as presenting to a demanding audience of one’s peers – and senior practitioners in the industry.

Before I went on stage, I asked for some tips to help me feel confident and be on top of my game. After all, opportunities to get in front of a room full of potential buyers comes along very rarely. Here were the tips I was given by the members of the Professional Speaking Association:

1. Remember that they asked you

Whilst you may not feel worthy or entitled to present, remember that you are the only one with your insight and your perspective, based on your own knowledge and experience. Everyone has something to learn from seeing things from a different angle. You wouldn’t be there if they wanted someone else or something different to what you can offer. Knowing this can often help you stay centred and confident in your own skin.

Thank you to Claire Boyles, Alison Smith

2. Use an anchoring technique

Anchoring is an NLP technique, where you use a trigger to help you change state. To do this, think of a time when you were very confident and on top of your game. You may have been presenting, or maybe not. Do a physical gesture, such as twirling your thumbs. As you do this gesture, cast your mind back to this time when you were confident and on top of your game. As you are twirling your thumbs (or your equivalent gesture), ask yourself:

What did I feel in the different parts of my body when I was very confident and on top of my game?

Repeat this exercise 20+ times, until you notice that when you do the physical gesture, your body automatically responds with the state you were in when you were on top of your game.

Thank you to Daniel Latto

3. Go to the venue early

If you get the opportunity, go to the room you are speaking in and look at the room. Whilst you are there, visualise yourself speaking to the audience and doing a great job. This simple technique can help you to energise yourself and put you in the right frame of mind.

Thank you to Isabella Brusati

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4. Mix and mingle with your audience beforehand

If you can do, go out and meet the audience one by one. The more people you can talk to, the more that you will feel that you are talking with friends.

Thank you to Daniel Latto

5. Remember that you can’t please everyone all the time

Some people will love what you say, and others wouldn’t. That’s OK. The important thing is to make sure that the right people love what you say. How can you tailor your message so it hits the spot with the right people?

Thank you to Daniel Latto

6. Get a good night’s sleep and drink lots of water

Aim to get a good night’s sleep and drink lots of water the day before and on the day to keep your brain hydrated.

Thank you to Alison Smith

7. Ask yourself what your audience needs

Ask yourself, can your audience take away what THEY need from your presentation. If the answer is “yes’, then you are on for a great presentation.

Thank you to Simon Chaplin

8. Be brave

Be brave and remember that you have been invited to speak based on your knowledge, skills and reputation. Therefore, stand tall and remember that the organisers had faith in you.

Thank you to Nigel Risner, Sarah Hopwood and Mark Lee

9. Practice your opening and closing lines

Practice the first 3 minutes and the last 3 minutes of your presentation/speech audibly over 10 times. That is usually enough to help you get over the adrenaline rush and wonky voice syndrome, and your sub-concious brain will take over from you.

Thank you to Mark Lee and Mark Donnan

10. Be humble

Get someone else to introduce you, and (unless you are in a pitch), don’t outline your credentials at the start of the presentation. Your aim at the start is to build rapport with the audience and convince them that you understand them and can help them. Stating why you are brilliant at the start of your presentation can be a big turn-off for many people in the audience.

Thank you to Sarah Hopwood

11. Respect your audience

Very senior people really hate being talked down to. Therefore, respect their opinions and time, and don’t take for granted the fact you have been asked to speak. Be open with them, show a little vulnerability and they will like you for this much more.

Thank you to Fergus McClelland.

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What else would you add to this list?

Author Credit:

HowtoMakePartner book jacketWritten by Heather Townsend. I help professionals become the ‘Go To Expert’. I am the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life‘ and the author of the award-winning and bestselling book on Networking, ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking‘.

To find out whether I can help you, have a look at “our services”

Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter

Click here to download your free essential Partner Panel Checklist (email required) to make sure you absolutely ready for your Partner Panel Interview.

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