John never gave a presentation before and was extremely nervous. Sure he had been involved in many meetings, but to actually talk to upper management while using a laptop and projector was nerve racking. When he gave the presentation, he was only halfway through the slides when the allotted time for the meeting was over. He was stiff in his presentation, the slides had too much text and were hard to read, and he did not cover all of the main points. John realized that he did not plan out the presentation as well as he should have. He learned the hard way that he needed to make sure he timed his presentation, use quick bullet points instead of long sentences, and to be more relaxed.
The next time John was to give a presentation, he made sure the slides were quick and to the point, and that there was enough time to cover all of the material. Unfortunately, John showed up to his own meeting just a few minutes before giving his presentation, and sure enough, this time the equipment was not working. He tried to fix it by checking the connection from the laptop to the projector, and confirmed there was power, but still no luck. He had some notes to go of off, but the presentation needed visuals and turned out to be ineffective. He was also stressed due to the malfunction.
From that point on John made it a point to arrive at least 15 minutes early to a presentation meeting, test all equipment, have short bullet points in the PowerPoint presentation in which to talk about, and just relax and be himself. He also made it a point to be fully comfortable with setting up and tearing down all of the equipment, and practiced speaking about the main points of his presentation while going through each slide. John is now considered a great presenter with excellent communication skills.
Epilogue: The moral of the story is you need to be fully prepared in order to relax and be yourself. If you approach the presentation as being too uptight, the presentation will come off as uneventful. If your approach is lackadaisical, you will not be prepared to handle any problems that might appear. By getting it just right, you will be able to have a successful presentation. The key is to be fully prepared by creating the right presentation for the occasion, practice speaking about the main points (but not word-for-word), making sure everything is working (have spares if possible), and always have a backup plan. Once all of this is in order, you can relax, be yourself, and present the meeting knowing you have everything under control, no matter what happens.