6 Ways To Ace A Presentation (Even When You’re Shy)

public speaking in a presentation can make you nervous

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You guys? I’m really nervous. I’m giving a big presentation tonight to a bunch of people I don’t know . . . and not only am I supposed to teach them something new, I’m also supposed to make sure they don’t fall asleep in the middle of my talk. Last night, wide awake at 3 am, I decided to look up some tips on doing public speaking when you’re kind of shy. I know a lot of you are about to be giving a presentation soon, either in class (that end-of-semester group project isn’t going to present itself!) or at a holiday program, so I thought I’d share what I found.
If you’re just as terrified by public speaking as I am, check these five tips for kicking any presentation’s butt:

1. Have a Plan
You might think you’ll be most comfortable if you just wing it, but believe me, when you’re up in front of everyone you know (or don’t know) and their parents, it’s a lot harder to be your most charming, creative self. Write out an outline of what you want to talk about and keep it with you either on note cards or just on a sheet of paper. If you get distracted midway through your presentation, it’ll help you get back on track right away.

2. Start With A Bang
Maybe your presentation is on something that would normally send half your class to dreamland, but that doesn’t matter, because it’s your job to make this interesting. One of the biggest secrets to public speaking is to make your audience feel like they’re being let in on a secret–either a little known and surprising fact that relates the subject back to your audience, or a funny joke that relates to your topic will do the trick.

3. Make It Interactive
Sure, you’re the one in the spotlight, but why should you do all the work? Ask your audience questions about why they think a certain thing would have happened, or why certain facts are true before revealing the real answers. It’ll get people thinking and keep them more interested in your presentation.

4. Talk Slowly
I am so guilty of rushing through presentations, especially when I’m nervous, but it’s really the biggest sin in public speaking. Here’s why: The people who are sitting there, watching you give the talk are hoping to get something out of it. You have information that they don’t, and it’s up to you to get it to them in the most interesting way possible. No matter how brilliant your presentation is, though, nobody will be able to hear it at all if you’re talking 10,000 words a minute. Slow down, take a breath, and realize it’s not a race!

5. Give Handouts
Ever been watching someone’s presentation and wondered, “Dear God, when is this thing going to end?” Right. We all have. And even if you’re killing it, someone will be thinking that about you . . . unless you hand out an overview of your presentation before you even start talking. You can either use the same version you’re keeping for yourself as a guide, or a more simplified version. It’ll keep them on track and interested in the flow of your talk.

6. Wear Something Cute And Comfortable
There is one part of public speaking that isn’t about speaking at all–and that’s how you look. If you wear something uncomfortable, you’re way more likely to fidget with your outfit–which will make you look less prepared and confident in your presentation! Wear something appropriate that you feel good in, but that won’t be riding up or slipping down as you walk around the room giving your talk. You want to look like you own the room, not like you need to run to the bathroom!

How do you deal with public speaking? What’s the last presentation you gave? How did it go? Tell me about it in the comments!

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  • Kaitlynn

    okay, it said five tips, but there are 6. just wondering if anyone relized that besides just me…

    • basschick

      acually you are wrong…….

    • Amalia

      Where do you see 5 tips at?

  • lulu

    These are all great tips, but I can’t even put them to use as I’m too shy to get through the first few sentences without almost crying. I have no idea why I get so nervous. I’m not usually shy; I’m only shy during presentations. Any more tips?