This piece of advice changed how I give presentations

A few years ago I was given the opportunity to present my research on a large (to me) stage. It was part of a lecture series that had hosted some of the biggest names in my field, and it was to be broadcast via videoconference across the province. 

I was honoured to be invited, and excited to share my work. I was also TERRIFIED. Not because I didn't enjoy public speaking—I love public speaking. I'm a former theatre nerd, so it wasn't about stage fright.

The stakes were high. I wanted to sound like I knew my stuff. I wanted to impress my colleagues. I wanted to give a talk that people would remember, not one that they'd sleep through.

So I worked my ass off. I used every trick I knew to make my presentation interesting: I told a story, I used images instead of text-heavy slides, I memorized my presentation, I made a handout with the take-home points.

I was ready.

And then I rehearsed it in front of my boyfriend. It went well, but something was off. We both knew it.

The advice he gave me changed the way I gave that presentation, and it has changed every presentation I've given since.

He said, "It's good, but you're not having any fun. Just enjoy yourself."

He was right. I was nervous about screwing up, which made me flustered and boring.

So a few days later I did my best power pose, I walked into that conference room, and I enjoyed the hell out of my experience.

And I knocked it out of the park. I gave the best talk that I could give.

Don't get me wrong: I was nervous AF. But instead of channeling that nervousness into fear, I channeled it into excitement. I loosened up. And I had a WAY better time.

All of the prep work, all of the memorization and rehearsals—it wouldn't have felt nearly as satisfying if I'd been worried the whole time. And I truly believe that even if I hadn't had my best day, or if something had gone sideways, I still would have come away feeling good about what I did.

Because I had fun.

 

How could you shift from fear to fun in your next presentation? Tell me in the comments!

Get your 90-Day Grant Writing Blueprint

Map out exactly what to do to write an outstanding research proposal—and when to do it.

    You'll also get weekly grant writing advice. Unsubscribe at any time.