Author Archives: Phil Stella

Networking Defined

A reporter recently asked for my definition of ‘Networking’

‘Networking is simply the exchange of ideas, information or resources. It’s all about information. John Naisbit first described networking that way in ‘MegaTrends’ over 30 years ago. Read More »

Even More ‘Stellar Wisdom’

I so appreciate the positive reader reaction about sharing my own ’Quote-ables’ based on over 35 years of workplace communication practitioner experience. Enjoy this month’s trio …

  1. Do what you love and love what you do. All the rest is just details.
  2. Plan your work, then work your plan.
  3. Your customers are not always right, but they are always your Customers. So, take good care of them by meeting their reasonable expectations and make a profit doing it.

And in case someone asks ‘Says who?’ …

Phil Stella, 21st century executive presentation coach, author and professional speaker

I Don’t Get It – Vague References

I don’t get why so many workplace communicators still prefer vague words or phrases. Whether the choice is conscious or not, ‘specific beats vague’ every time. Read More »

Don’t Be a LinkedIn Loser

My recurring rants about LinkedIn Losers often generate reader reaction and commentary – both positive and negative. So … here we go again! Read More »

Make Listening Work

Last month’s frustrating rant reminded readers why we don’t listen very well. But not to worry – this month is all about what to do about that situation. Here are lots of simple ways to Make Listening Work for you. Read More »

Managing Your Presentation Anxiety

Last month, we discussed why you – and everyone else – has some degree of Presentation Anxiety and what may cause it. Assuming that information didn’t scare you too much, let’s turn attention to the positive steps you can take to Manage Your PA.

Now, we’ll discuss specific strategies and tactics for dealing with each one of your causes. If you add some of these to your Presenter Tool Kit, you can actually minimize the level of PA they cause and learn to mask what’s left. The higher the number you assign to each cause, the more effort you should be willing to put into embracing the related tactics. Remember that your real goal is to appear to be credible, competent and confident and you’ll encounter the ‘perception is reality’ concept often.

You’ll recall from last month that PA isn’t a singular psychological phenomenon, but a variety of specific causes that impact presenters in different ways. And different presentation circumstances can create different levels of PA in the same presenter.  What follows is a brief summary of specific strategies and techniques you can use to Minimize each Cause Factor.

Minimize Causes of PA

*  Most causes relate to preparation – or lack thereof: fear of not knowing your material, not being an expert, not being prepared, not making a good impression on your audience or your bosses, not handling audience questions very well, etc. The obvious strategy to minimize these drivers is … Prepare!

Do your homework.  Remember that failing to plan is planning to fail.  So, commit the time and effort to properly prepare your audience-centric presentation.  Answer all the important questions.  Review the previous ‘Stellar Presentations’ articles in the archives as needed.

*  Part of your audience analysis process is anticipating their needs, reactions and potential questions.  Fore warned is fore armed.  Be prepared to deal with their reactions and respond to their questions with succinct and focused answers … just in case.

*  Also accept the fundamental difference between being an expert and having expertise.  If you didn’t have enough content knowledge to adequately handle the topic, why would you be presenting in the first place?  You don’t need to be an expert, just have enough more expertise on the topic than the audience does so you can accomplish your outcomes.  An old Sicilian proverb comes to mind here – ‘In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.’

*  Another critical strategy to minimize PA is practice – rehearse your presentation several times, out loud, standing up, working with your slides.  Audio or video tape it for self-critique.  For really important presentations, rehearse with a small audience of colleagues who can relate to the topic and provide focused, objective constructive feedback.

*  If your PA level is high because you’re shy or self-conscious about your appearance, remind yourself that they probably didn’t hire you for your personality or looks.  You’re really not the center of attention – your message and audience are.  Shy, introverted people can be very effective audience-centric presenters.  They just need more effort and practice.

Mask Symptoms

* Once you’ve minimized your specific causes as much as you can, learn to mask what’s left.  The audience can’t see the butterflies in your stomach or the sweat on your palms.  They only know what they see and hear.  So, let them see and hear what they assume is a credible, confident and competent presenter. Their perception is truly your reality.

Never say you’re nervous, uncomfortable or unprepared – make them figure that out for themselves. And most won’t.

Smile more – it projects confidence.

*  Look like you’re having fun.

Increase your volume and inflection to sound more authoritative and confident.

*  Minimize nervous-looking gestures and movement.

*  Maintain sustained eye contact with all parts of the room.

Project enthusiasm and passion for your topic with your words and actions.  Fake it if you need to. Remember the song from ‘Dream Girls’ – ‘Faking it to the Top’. (If you need some help in faking it, watch the deli scene from the movie ‘When Harry Met Sally’ several times.)

So, there you go.  Proven strategies to minimize your specific causes of Presentation Anxiety and techniques to mask what’s left.  Keep telling yourself that you don’t actually need to become confident and comfortable on the platform, just look and sound like it.  Presenters on the Varsity Team have learned how to do that and Manage PA. So can you.

 

 

Lose Lame Lines

An often- overlooked element in any email or memo is the simple little Subject Line. Depending on their content, they can add to the message or detract from the workplace writer’s image of competency. So … here are a few tips to Lose Lame Lines: Read More »

A Quick Refresher

‘Communicate Clearly’, Robert Heller, DK Publishing, NY, 1998

I actually read this little Essential Managers series reference book again. Lots of simple reminders – worth the quick read.

Keep Elevating Your Elevator Speech

Read More »

You’re Not Listening!

As workplace communicators, we obviously spend a lot of time each day communicating verbally. Therefore, we spend a lot of time listening … or should.

Problem is, we don’t listen very well. Especially those of us Type A Driver Entrepreneurs. Sound familiar? We regularly fall victim to one or more of these seven Barriers to Listening: Read More »

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