I just had the honor of presenting a session titled Expert Marketing With A Lean Team at the Self Storage Association Spring conference in New Orleans. Christine Munther from G5 and I co-presented, and I believe we hit the ball out of the park, driving substantial value and motivation for the audience. I could tell based on the huge attendance (packed room with standing room only) and the incredibly engaged audience (wonderful questions). Today, I want to share the tips that I personally leveraged to put myself in a state of peak performance for our presentation. I hope that you can gain value from these warm up strategies so your next large-audience presentation is your personal best.
Tip 1: Focus On Your MindstateWhen I woke up the day of my presentation, I was actually quite tired. It had been a long flight the day before and I didn’t get a ton of sleep due to the time change. That being said, I was able to quickly turn my mindstate into peak performance zone by leveraging my Five Minute Journal. (If you have not checked out my Five Minute Journal Review yet, I highly recommend doing so, as this tool is a game-changer.) The interesting part here is I actually forgot to bring my physical journal, but I was able to recreate The Five Minute Journal (minus the motivational quote) on a piece of blank paper.
Importantly, I set forth three goals for the day, only one related to my presentation. The others involved exercising at the gym and successfully completing an investment project I had been working on. I think this point is key: Don’t just focus on your presentation. Focus on you. Make the day exciting beyond your presentation so you don’t get overly focused and anxious about your public speaking. Your best presentations happen when you are relaxed.
Tip 2: Go To The Gym
I’m a big fan of the healthy lifestyle. I try to do something that benefits my health each and every day. I have learned that the mind and body are closely connected. I have also learned the working out can release positive endorphins and put you in a state of peak performance. In the morning, I did some moderate cardio and also some heavy weights (but not for too long). I didn’t want to exhaust myself for my big presentation, but I wanted to do something for me. I wanted to make sure I enjoyed a relaxed state before getting on stage.
Tip 3: Practice EarlyChristine and I met early and practiced our presentation in the same auditorium of our actual event. I think the location element here is key. Get familiar with your auditorium, if you’re able to get access. Get used to the environment.
When we practiced, we purposefully made it more of an informal conversation. We did not go over every single point. We did not use our full voices. It’s important to conserve your energy and leave room for improvisation during the actual event. Save your personal best for the real deal, and go easy and light during the practice run.
As a practical matter, we also answered some important questions during our practice run. Would we stand on stage or roam the floor? Would we use the microphone at the podium or use lav mics? It’s great to develop your personal answers to these questions and more during the practice run.
Tip 4: Leave Time To Think
Before our big event, I took it relatively easy. I enjoyed the expo hall and some friendly conversations. I had a nice lunch and met some new faces. I left time to just sit and think (mostly thinking through speaking points in my mind). You can go about your day at more of a normal pace after the presentation. Before, it’s important to take it a little light and conserve your energy (especially mental energy). Always remember when going to a conference: You came there to get a job done. All focus needs to be placed towards that goal until it’s successfully accomplished.
Tip 5: Conserve Your Voice
This tip is an extension of the last one. I often find at these conferences that I lose my voice from so much networking. It’s loud and we all tend to speak in loud voices and with more frequency than normal. Make sure this doesn’t happen on the day of your big presentation. Conserve your voice. You can always power network right after (which is exactly what I did).
Tip 6: Don’t Worry About Your Slides
Public speaking is all about connecting with the audience. It’s all about improvising and telling a personal story. While slides can be helpful, I personally recommend speaking as if there are no slides at all. The point here: Your slides don’t really matter (as much as you think). By the time you have arrived at your conference, no additional changes to your slides are going to help. You’ve already done all you can do on that front. Now is the time to really get in that zone so you can speak from the heart and connect with the audience. The slides are just there to support you.
Tip 7: Don’t Eat Too Much
This is a funny one, but I have always found that it’s best to go light and very healthy on days of presentations. You don’t want to have a full stomach when you are about to present. I have found that the body is in peak performance for speaking with a moderate/low amount of food. In fact, I approach this in a similar fashion to sports. I don’t eat a ton of food before an 8-mile run. Rather, I eat that big meal right after. Treat your public speaking like a sporting event.
Tip 8: Talk To A Friend Or Two For Motivation
Your inner circle is key. I’m talking about your family and your very close friends. Ask them to wish you good luck. Leverage their words of encouragement to get excited about your event. Be careful here to not involve anyone who could potentially bring any negativity to the matter.
Tip 9: Start Getting Pumped Up
Right before your event is to start (about 15 minutes before), start moving from a state of calm to a state of controlled excitement. Now, the sports event is about to start. You’ll want to have all of your energy. You want to be a dynamic speaker that is happy and excited to be there. Don’t go too crazy, but walk around and maybe even do a few pushups.
Tip 10: Leverage Positive Images
Right before we went on stage (1-2 minutes before), I viewed photos of my amazing family. These photos brought a smile to my face and reminded me that family is more important than anything. These positive photos put my mind at ease and allowed me to transition into one of my personal best presentations.
There is so much work that goes into preparing for a great presentation. In order to prepare for our hour-long presentation, we spent countless days building slides and handouts. That work is so important, as it’s the foundation of one’s presentation. At the same time, I believe that the tips mentioned above are the true game-changers. It all comes down to the single moment of one’s presentation and you have to be in the right state. It’s game day and you have to treat it as such.
As a bonus tip, I highly recommend a strategy of gratitude as well. There are many wonderful speakers out there with incredible stories to tell. Securing a large public speaking event is a big deal. Once your presentation is over, make sure to thank the conference organizers – verbally, via email, and also with a small gift. Your honor of presenting is due to some really special people who deserve thanks. And, of course, thank the audience too. Their time is incredibly valuable and you should strive to add lasting value in their lives.
I hope these tips help and wish you all the best in your next public speaking event.
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