What makes you feel presentation pressure? A big client? A big paycheck? Colleagues watching? Family in the audience? A speech contest? The pressure is real even though it is only in your head.
On Saturday, my friend Alex was graduating from the NSA Las Vegas Speakers Academy. She was presenting to our chapter, and they were videotaping her. Yikes! This could be great demo video. Or not! It depends on how it goes. It was a story she had been working on for months, and she had a coach. I sent her a quick, “Good luck!” text that morning. She replied, “No pressure – hopefully I won’t screw up!”
My text reply to her was, “Screw up! Be authentic. I want you present, not perfect. Let me feel your intention.” It is the same thing I would text you if you were a bit nervous. Presentation pressure usually causes us to focus on ourselves. We can all use a reminder about this. One of the best laughs Saturday Night Live cast members get is when they break character and laugh unintentionally. We know they are not supposed to break character, but we love it when they do.
If you make a mistake and are authentic about it, we, the audience, love it! That’s the real you. That is whom we want to see, not someone trying to impress us with their perfection.
If you are videotaping for a product or a demo video, it is even more important to be real. The video camera catches a lot. It captures even subtleties. There is no substitute for authentic, genuine connection.
Pressure is a normal part of what we do, whether because of a big client, a contest, or, the scariest one, your peers. It is not the pressure itself, but how you manage it. Don’t add to your own pressure by multiplying it in your head. Release it. Prepare and practice as much as possible, but on the day of, let it go, and have fun. By the way, the more you prepare, the easier you’ll find it to let go and have fun. Just sayin’.
You can be perfect and perform flawlessly, and the audience still may not feel connected. If you do that, they might think you are a good presenter, but probably won’t buy into your message. As Craig Valentine would say, “It’s not about perfection, it’s about connection.”