Day-dream your way to a better presentation

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Day-dreaming can quickly take us away from our everyday, humdrum existence. It can remove all our worries and frustrations in a brief period of time that is out of all proportion to everything that has taken place in our heads.

This ability to cut ourselves off from reality and charge up our self-esteem is available to us at any time. So I'm suggesting that you harness its energizing power and use it to help you deliver better presentations.

After all, what could be more gratifying than to be invited to pay attention solely to yourself during working hours?

There is one proviso, however. None of the ideas below can be of any use unless you have made yourself thoroughly conversant with the subject you are going to talk about. Presenters who think it's enough just to parrot other people's ideas will be found wanting - even in their wildest dreams.

So, as soon as your knowledge is in place, envisage a sparkier, more fluent, more assured, more attractive you. Once you've got that vibrant persona in mind, visualize this new self giving the presentation you've been working on to a group of close friends who are all rooting for you.

As you develop your message, stay well within this comfort zone. If you find yourself lost for words just follow Shakespeare's example and invent some! As soon as you have finished this imaginary performance, write down or dictate as much as you can remember of what you said. Don't think about anything else until you have written those first impressions down.

Then, while you still have in mind how good you felt and how easy it was to deliver the presentation of your dreams, make a note of the mannerisms and tones of voice you were using and jot down how you handled any equipment and how you related to your audience.

When you read through your notes later, you are likely to find that they're bit of a dog's breakfast of ideas and emotions. Don't worry about that. Read between the lines to track down the source of the joie de vivre, the ease of the delivery, the confident knowledge and the skillful handling of props you imagined. And use what you discover to create a template for how you will actually talk and behave when you face a real audience.

To be doubly sure that you have covered all possible bases, it's also worth putting yourself through a worst nightmare scenario. How will you cope if the technology fails, your notes, laptop or disc go missing or you find yourself at a loss for words in front of a hostile audience.

Once you've analyzed that hellish vision and incorporated any useful data from it into the real presentation, you are far les likely to be thrown off course during the real performance. It also makes it unlikely that members of your audience will choose to visualize themselves anywhere but in your presence.

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