Taking a drink can help relax you. Remember that the audience is interested in listening to you. Some basic tips can help keep their attention focused on you:
- Don’t read from your notes; speak naturally, slowly, and with a relaxed voice.
- Don’t do power points karaoke; that is, don’t simply read from the screen. Use the slides only to offer highlights.
- Don’t turn your back on the audience; face them and talk to them.
- Don’t move around; stand still with your notes in front of you.
When you are giving your presentation you might stumble across some of your words. We all do this at times. So if you begin talking and you lose your place, or if you have trouble pronouncing some words, stop and take a breath. If you need to go back to the beginning of your sentence, that is fine. Just do it smoothly. If you need to re-pronounce a word, just do that smoothly, too. You might be very aware of these slips in speech, but your audience will not be. Professional speakers know that listeners don’t really pay much attention to interruptions in speech unless the speaker points them out. So don’t point them out. If you pay attention to speakers, you will notice that, although their deliveries might be polished, they are not flawless. But most of the time, you don’t even notice. During your presentation, your listeners will generally not be aware of small errors in your talk.
After you complete your prepared remarks, expect some questions from the audience. Keep in mind that even experts don’t know everything about their topic. As a speaker, you won’t be expected to know everything either. So if you forget something or if you can’t answer a question, that’s not necessarily a problem. You should prepare so you minimize the need to say you don’t know, but it will happen on occasion.