High stakes presentations are a necessary part of a successful business whether you are pitching to a group of investors, selling to the CEO, presenting your company to a large crowd, etc. Failure to remain calm, composed, charismatic, and confident can lead to loss of investment or loss of good business opportunities. The most successful public speakers are able to get their audience aligned with their emotional state. This is why they are successful at what they do. Let’s explore some tips that will help you give a stellar presentation when the stakes are at their highest.
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
Rehearsal is a big factor in success. Practice makes perfect, right? In order to get ready for a high stakes presentation you need to practice your presentation under similar pressures. In order to do this you will need to practice your presentation in front of a group of people who know not only your topic, but your audience and best practices too.
Practicing your presentation has benefits for your brain activity too. By presenting your topic in front of a group of knowledgeable people your brain is transferring the data, your words, and ideas from your pre-frontal cortex to your cerebellum. Your cerebellum is the part of your brain that is responsible for coordinating mental and physical tasks, like giving a presentation or playing the piano.
Have a Game Plan
This is part of the rehearsal process, but you need to know how you are going to open, where you will be in the middle, and how you will end your presentation. Knowing where you are going and where you need to be in your presentation will give you security and confidence. It also works so that if questions pull you off the direction of your topic you can always get back on the points you want to discuss.
Getting exercise or physical activity before you give a big presentation can be very useful in helping you relax and focus. Exercise and physical activity release endorphins in your brain that make you feel calm and relaxed. Famously, George Bush Sr. exercised and got a massage before giving what many historians consider to be his best speech ever at the 1988 Republican National Convention.
How to Deal With Nervousness
Being nervous or anxious is natural in high-pressure situations, don’t try to clam yourself down. Instead re-label your nervousness as energy or excitement. When talking about the way you are feeling before a big presentation, say you are energetic or excited instead of nervous. Studies have shown that the more you say things like this out loud the more your mind frames it to be true.
Another great way to deal with the nerves that you might be feeling is to remind yourself that you want to be there. No matter what you’re talking about or who you are talking to it is probably an honor that you were the one chosen to speak.
Own The Space
Moving around the space you have during a presentation as you speak demonstrates ease and confidence, if you move with destination and purpose. One thing you do not want to do is to pace back and forth on stage, or wherever, like a caged animal. To avoid this, move to a certain spot, in the room, on the stage, etc, and stop there. Make a point or two to the people closest to the spot you stopped at and then move to a new spot. In some cases free-range movement may not work or be an option if you are at a podium or in a board room, but you can still command a room from a fixed point at a podium if you remember that the whole space is your stage.