Unless you’ve arrived hours late or the heat or air conditioning isn’t working, you have nothing to apologize for. Your audience is there to hear your presentation, not to worry about your health, your slide deck, your quiet voice (get a microphone or speak up!), your (minor) accent, or anything else that would only distract them from receiving your message.
2: Confess that you’ve not prepared
This one baffles the mind. The audience shows you the respect of showing up, sitting quietly, and devoting their attention to you, and you repay them by telling them you’ve not respected them enough to prepare. ?!? If you’re not prepared, first; SHAME ON YOU, second; KEEP IT TO YOURSELF, third; chances are they’ll figure it out on their own…
3: Tell them you’re nervous
Akin to apologizing. Believe it or not, unless your mother or your spouse is in the audience, they don’t care if you’re nervous – nor can they tell. Why? The audience is not there for you – they’re there for themselves. What’s more, they know they’re there for themselves. They’re eagerly waiting for you to begin giving them something- information, motivation, solutions to their problems. Your nerves? They could care less. Not about them.
4: Promise something and then not deliver
Wanna make an audience boiling mad? Tell them in the intro that you’re going to give them valuable tools to solve their problem and then give them zilch. You may think dangling a carrot in front of them (when you’ve promised the carrot) will make them want more from you. It will only make them want to hurt you. Don’t do it.
5: Look at your notes, at the screen, anywhere but at them
Research shows that all of us (even big hams like me) are nervous those first 45 seconds of a presentation, which some of us deal with by looking anywhere but at the audience. Unfortunately, it is impossible to connect with others without looking at them, and it’s critical to connect right at the start. How sincere do you find someone saying, “I’m so honored to be speaking to you today.” when he’s head down, staring at his notes? Exactly. Take a deep breath, look out into the audience and SMILE. They’ll smile back, connect with you and look forward to what’s to come. Oh, and you’ll be heard.