Ever attended a boring presentation and thought to yourself why am I even here; or worse thought you were going to give a boring presentation and had the same thought as mentioned above? Having to wait before your turn in presentation is the scariest feeling of all; contrastingly, going through with it and delivering a successful presentation puts you on cloud nine.
A presentation is the procedure of presenting an idea, topic or thought to an audience using creative and effective tools. Presentations have many purposes, that is to inform, persuade, entertain, instruct etc. It may be addressed to a single entity, to a group or to a crowd. It is also being used in all types of fields be it education, work, sales; or even casual like giving a presentation to your friend about how your favorite movie actor is the best.
Why are presentations necessary?
Presentations are important to polish your skills and get you ready to face and interact with the real world. Some of the reasons highlighting the necessity of a presentation include engaging your audience. Engagement with your audience is important especially if your presentation is persuasive; it pushes you to face the audience and put your voice out there to grab the attention of the audience. Additionally, it helps you to see whether the audience is bored or interested. Also, if they are bored you could always use diversion to steam off the boredom.
Moreover, there is much flexibility when it comes to presentations. You can easily modify points or change the topic in the presentation when and if needed to go in line with your client’s needs. Although it is not possible in the case of a printed. Subsequently, presentations make you do extra research and reference slides; in turn increasing your knowledge of your topic making it easier to even refer in future
The main of the presentation is to deliver an important message or explain a topic in a brief or concise manner so that the audience don’t lose much of their time and use much of their brain power.
Why do people avoid giving presentations?
There are many reasons for people to duck down when given the opportunity to give a presentation. Being lazy, not taking up extra work, not good at making a presentation or having the presentation skills etc. However, the most common reasons for avoiding presentations are getting that uncomfortable feeling before presentation, fear of public speaking or the fear of boring out the audience or messing up.
Infact, according to the website verywellmind.com around 77% of the population have glossophobia or the fear of public speaking (fear of giving presentations in front of people). This problem also arises because of people thinking that they are being constantly judged by their audience or people around them for every move they make.
How to get out of Presentations?
Confront your teacher or superior, talk to them and explain in detail how uncomfortable you are to present in front of everyone else and ask if there is an alternative solution or work you could do to earn the credits or ask for permission to give one on one presentation. Chances are that they might agree to your requests.
2) Video presentation
Ask the person in charge if you could have a video presentation instead of a live one, this way they could have you perform it in the form of a presentation and you would also be comfortable doing it in the absence of a live audience.
3) Sick Trip
One clever but unethical way to get out of a presentation is to call in sick or plan a trip for 2-3 days around that time. In the workplace this might spare you from presenting, as the presentation might continue without you. However, in school or college this may just simply postpone your chance to present or if you are lucky enough it will get you to present only in front of the teacher.
3) Family Emergency
Another unethical excuse to get out of a presentation is fake a family emergency call and get out of a presentation, same as before if you wish you to postpone your presentation, this might be of help.
Note: - Use of these excuses is recommended to get you out of presentation only if you have presentation anxiety and your superiors are unhelpful leaving you with no other choice. Using these excuses for wrong reasons is highly unethical and might get you into trouble.
4) Less talk, more work
If it’s a group project, with the permission of the authority, you can volunteer to do more research, technical and background work and in turn less speaking or none at all during your group presentation.
5) Deleted Presentation
A reason specifically used so that you could postpone your presentation for some time is using this excuse that your presentation got deleted by mistake and that you did not take a back up. However, this could not be used in a group presentation and could be a little less plausible, because it is a very common excuse people used to get out of a presentation.
6) Home Emergency
home emergencies like pipe burst, water flooding, gas leak can occur anytime, hence becoming a very plausible and perfect way to reach late and miss the presentation. In addition no would ask you to show a photo of your house in a mess. So it is pretty much fool proof. (This could only work if you mention that you live alone)
One of the commonly used yet barely doubtful justification for missing the presentation. You could say that you stayed up late practicing and preparing for the presentation and then you overslept and could not even hear your alarm as you by mistake put your phone on silent.
8) Untimely Death of a Close Relative
You wouldn’t want to wish or use this unless it’s badly needed. Almost everyone might believe this excuse and more so may give you a full day’s break (although your reason should be full planned like what happened, how did it happen etc.)
9) Personal Reasons
Here, you can simply say that you couldn’t complete the presentation on time due to personal reasons that you would not be comfortable sharing. The authorities might not ask you if you say that you’re uncomfortable sharing. Just in case they do be prepared with an excuse that sounds personal (example – you started menstruating and stained your clothes).
Can a teacher force me to give a presentation?
Technically, a teacher cannot force you to present in front of the class; although they can strongly insist you to do so with the intention to improve your public speaking skills and decrease your stage fright. However, if you refuse to give a presentation, they could give a bad grade unless you show them an IEP (Individualized Education Plan – a legal document generally used for children with learning disabilities for personalized learning goals and needs).
But this needs you to undergo an evaluation and is a lengthy process, on top of which it’s not applicable to get out of presentations at the workplace. So how can you successfully get out of a presentation without so many medical formalities?
How do I tell the teacher/superior that I can’t perform a presentation?
First and the most important of all inform them in advance. Don’t come up to them at the end moment, refusing to present. They wouldn’t be able to make changes or find an alternative to give to you this late. Besides, they will think that you are saying this only because you haven’t done your work or haven’t prepared for it and want to get away with it.
Furthermore, be honest with them, tell them the whole truth and explain to them in detail why you can’t do the presentation. The more genuine you are, the more chance there is that they will understand your situation and help you out.
Below is a template of the letter to write to the concerned authority/teacher and request them to allow you to not perform the presentation:
Respected Authority/Teacher, I am Ned from 'xyz' class/department. The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I do not wish to engage in giving the presentation. The reason for this is that I am not good at presenting in front of a group or a crowd, it tends to trigger my anxiety and makes me stressed (and nauseated (if you feel like it); which could lead me to mess up the presentation. Therefore I request you to excuse me from presenting and rather allow me to do more of technical or ground research (if in a group) or give me an alternative assignment to write. I hope you will understand my situation and help me on the same. Thank you for your time Yours sincerely, Ned Parker
Pre-presentation jitters! What to do?
Admit it or not, almost all of us have once had that feeling of nervousness running through our bodies before giving a presentation, thinking to ourselves “just get done with it already” or “I don’t want to do present anymore. What if I mess up? Somebody please get me out of this to be disaster!” So, how do I overcome that phase? There are quite a few ways to get rid of these jitters which include
relaxing your whole body internally and externally to decrease the secretion of stress hormones, in turn slowing down the rate resulting in decreased anxiety making you calm and composed and ready to face the crowd.
Listen to some music
it could help you calm down or distract you from terrifying thoughts (make sure your music has soft melody rather than it being anxiety increasing, bad thought inducing.
be fully familiarized with your content, learn about everything you need to know – questions, doubts, theory, statistics etc. This may make you become more confident on stage.
Try to practice thoroughly before in front of your friends or family and have them ask questions to create a mock environment which will help you get more comfortable in the real one.
Talk to a close one
Have a conversation with a person who is close to you, this might help calm your nerves and gain you some confidence. Talk to them, tell them how you feel, they might have a solution or might give a pep talk to encourage you or simply their mere auditory presence could make you feel a lot better.
So this is basically a way to loosen up your body a bit from all involuntary bracing that you are doing due to stress. Bioenergetics is a technique of stretching your body in weird ways and along with making weird sounds. This tends to open up your voice and make you more relaxed.
Some Tips to Give your First Presentation:
Here are some tips you can keep in mind when preparing your first presentation:
Pseudo eye contact
If you are nervous to look people in the eye while presenting, make a pseudo eye contact with them which means that look at empty spaces between the audience. Look at every empty space and it will appear like you are maintaining eye contact with them. However with the less amount of audience you could focus on anything on their face but their eyes.
Being nervous while on stage, one tends to unintentionally talk very quickly, this may make it difficult for the audience to perceive them and they might instantly lose the attention of the audience. Instead, what you could do is talk slowly than usual, this way you would be more conscious of your speech, seem more comprehensive and less nervous.
Presentation: Start and End
The start is the most crucial point in the whole presentation. How you start will determine whether you will have your audience’s attention throughout or not. If your audience experiences a boring beginning, they will judge the whole presentation on the basis of the start and not focus on your presentation. Some interesting ways to start your presentation are using stories, weird facts, jokes, questions, games, or anecdotes. Starting in an unconventional way would give you an edge over others.
For example, to give a presentation on your firm being the best tours and travels company, provides your audience with paper and pen to write their best and worst most hilarious travel memories and put them in a bowl to create a humorous and light environment at the start.
Similarly, your ending must also be as impactful as the start. Make a strong statement at the end to make an impact on the audience or give them something to think about at end using rhetoric device like “Was your latest travelling experience as good as how we ensure ours to be?” forcing them to weigh the pros and cons of both the deals and thinking about your presentation for a longer time.
For more effective opening slides, check out our article – 10 Of The Best Things To Say In Opening Remarks; and our video:
Handing over the presentation to the next presenter, how?
Now Peter is going to present about ‘xyz’ topic. Sounds a bit monotonous right? Because this is always the scene in almost every group presentation. Your team could try something different instead, like making a connection between your speech and the successor’s speech; similar to how you connect two paragraphs in an essay saying “now we know the importance of tea, but how to make one? My partner tom would now explain on how to make a tea.” and add in some more information on it.
When to pause during a presentation?
Whenever you give presentations remember that pauses are important, it helps give yourself and the audience some break and time to ponder upon. This is essential especially when you are having a solo presentation.
Firstly, time them in your speaking after questions that could be answered (but not necessarily need to be, like rhetorical devices. Such as stand-up comedians ask a rhetorical question or crack an intellectual joke and wait for the audience to react, rather than directly jumping to the next joke or conversation. This makes their connection with the audience seem genuine and also makes the audience feel included.
Secondly at the beginning of your presentation make eye contact with the audience for 3-5 seconds before you start. This somehow acquaints you with the audience and helps you to gain their focus.
Lastly, take a pause after you make or convey a significant point. Take a pause for half a minute or so and let the information sink in and enter their long-term memory. You can use this technique even after explaining a complex point.
Presentation gone wrong?
We don’t give ourselves enough credit when a presentation is successful but we are the first ones to regret and crib for a long time when messing up a bit in presentation.
Lots of people make mistakes during their presentation possibly due to anxiety, some technical glitch or some kind of innocent mistake. However only some people learn from their mistakes and move ahead, the rest become embarrassed and develop presentation anxiety or stage fright and dread giving presentation for the rest of their lives.
So how do we handle presentation mishaps in that moment?
1) First, when you realize your mistake, stop on the spot, take a deep breath, calm yourself down, find people around who understood your mistake but still gave you supporting smiles.
2) Next, explain your mistake and correct it, the audience will understand that you are just as human as everyone else in the room and can make mistakes.
3) Lastly take control of the situation and continue.
4) Another way you could admit your mistake is to laugh at yourself, that is cope with humor. The environment would already be tensed when people have sensed your mistake and because they don’t know how to react to your mess up and that has made them uncomfortable enough. Therefore, to blow off the steam make a joke or laugh on yourself.
How to make presentations fun?
Nobody likes those boring presentations with the same clichéd slides, with all the information crowded inside and no visual imagery. One could use different presentation tools to make your presentation more visually appealing. Some sites even have games to add on the slides to make it interesting.
Additionally, you could add videos, visual imagery, audios, social experiments, good examples, and animations etc. to captivate the audience’s attention.
To know more about different tools of presentation visit our article : 5 Presentations Tools To Use With Multimedia Presentations
Presentation skills must be developed since childhood since they are used in every field. However, if you are anxious to present and cannot face a crowd, it is important that you work on your public speaking skills to make it easier for you in the future. Additionally, you need to ask for help from your supervisors or teachers to improve your skills and make you a better communicator. One also needs to learn that their presentations wouldn’t always turn out as expected and that is okay, what is important is to show up, it is fine if you mess up; as explained in the show Brooklyn 99 that “two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward”. One should always keep moving forward, learning from all their mistakes and experiences.