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Presentation skills, practice and the top 10 don’ts
Alex Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP
Fear of public speaking is natural. Believe me when I say it's the same for every presenter, no matter how seasoned. I've given over 200 speeches and presentations all over the world, to audiences small enough to fit in a roadside diner and big enough to fill a convention hall, to your average group of HR professionals and to huge organizations well-known for clandestine missions. I still sometimes shiver with every syllable.
I hear it all the time: "I hate presenting anything to my peers!" Young professionals tend to ask me for the one tip that can make the greatest difference. I usually point out that no one tip will make anyone a better presenter. Or I toss out a platitude like "Practice, practice, practice." But the truth is that practice really does make you a better presenter. Practice is a mechanism for building ease and familiarity. The more familiar you are with your topic, the more ease you demonstrate to your audience.
Another tip—one I don't share often enough—is to stop undermining yourself. How? Stop using certain phrases that tell your audience how uncomfortable you are or that you really don't know what you're talking about. We've all heard presenters use these egregious, credibility-crushing phrases. I'm sharing them with you now, so you can avoid them forever.
The Top 10 Don'ts: Phrases of Poor Presenters
Avoiding these top 10 don'ts may not make you the most dynamic presenter, but you will seem professional and your presentation won't be bad. (I've witnessed so many unprofessional presentations, I've wondered if the poor presenters were being intentionally bad—so they'd never have to speak in public again.)
Even if you have a deathly fear of presenting, at least start with the goal of professionalism—and get there by evading these 10 pitfalls.
Alex Alonso, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, is senior vice president of knowledge development for SHRM.
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