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Ten top tips for mastering the art of engaging presentations as a Low Support Autistic

Imagine this scenario: You're preparing to give a presentation at work, and you're excited about sharing your ideas and expertise. However, there's a twist – you're a person with low support autism, which can make presenting a unique challenge.

The good news is that with some strategic techniques and a positive mindset, you can not only overcome these challenges but also excel in giving engaging presentations. In this article, as a trainer and presenter with low support autism myself, I'll explore practical tips and strategies to help individuals with low support autism thrive in the workplace when faced with presentation tasks.

All of these will of course help anyone needing to present, but autism can add a an extra zing that challenges the 'norm'.

Top tip 1: Preparation is key Successful presentations often hinge on meticulous preparation. This is even more critical for individuals with low support autism. Here's how you can prepare effectively:

  • Outline your presentation: Start by creating a clear and organised outline of your presentation. This will serve as your roadmap, making it easier to stay on track.

  • Visual Aids: Use visual aids like slides or diagrams. Visuals can be a powerful tool to convey your message and maintain the audience's attention. Keep them simple though. You don't want to bamboozle your audience.

  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Rehearse your presentation multiple times. This will help you become more comfortable with the material and reduce anxiety. And this means practice it out loud. That way you can spot any words you stumble over and so avoid later.

  • Record yourself: Consider recording yourself during practice. This will allow you to identify areas for improvement, such as pacing, tone, and body language. I don't know many people who like listening to themselves, but it does help. If you are using PowerPoint it even now has the presenting coach feature that can feedback any overly repeated wards and phrases and if it's to quick.

Top tip 2: Understand your audience One of the challenges for individuals with low support autism can be difficulty in reading the room. To overcome this, it's essential to understand your audience beforehand:

  • Research your audience: Gather information about your audience's background, interests, and expectations. This will help you tailor your presentation to their needs.

  • Ask for feedback: If possible, ask a trusted colleague for feedback on your presentation style. They can provide valuable insights into how you come across to others.

  • Practice empathy: Try to put yourself in your audience's shoes. Consider what information or delivery style would engage and resonate with them.

Top tip 3: Managing eye contact Difficulty in giving eye contact can be a common challenge for individuals with low support autism. However, you can work on this aspect without making it feel forced:

  • Alternate gaze: Instead of making prolonged eye contact, try alternating your gaze between different points in the room. This can create the impression of eye contact without overwhelming you.

  • Focus on the forehead or nose: If direct eye contact is uncomfortable, aim to focus on the person's forehead or nose. It's a subtler way to appear engaged.

  • Practice with familiar faces: Start by practicing eye contact with people you feel comfortable around. Gradually, you can expand to larger audiences. And through your audience research, if there are going to be some friendly faces who you'll know, then start your eye contact with them.

Top tip 4: Dealing with interruptions gracefully Handling interruptions during a presentation can be tricky as it messes with your plan, but it's a skill you can develop:

  • Pause and acknowledge: When interrupted, take a brief pause to acknowledge the interruption politely. For example, you can say, "That's an interesting point, let's address it in a moment."

  • Stay calm: Maintain your composure and avoid becoming flustered. Remember that interruptions can happen to anyone, and it's not a reflection of your presentation skills. To increase the pause and give you more breathing time always have water with you. Pausing for a drink gives you a break.

  • Encourage questions: Encourage questions and participation from the audience. This can help redirect interruptions into productive discussions.

Top tip 5: Use your unique strengths While low support autism may present challenges, they can also be sources of strength:

  • Attention to detail: If attention to detail is your thing the leverage it to detail to create meticulously prepared presentations. This can set you apart as a thorough and reliable presenter.

  • Passion and expertise: Share your passion and expertise on the topic. Your enthusiasm can be contagious and draw in your audience.

  • Visual thinking: If you're a visual thinker, use this to your advantage in creating compelling visuals and infographics that aid in your presentation.

Top tip 6: Develop a script or outline Having a script or detailed outline can provide a safety net during your presentation:

  • Scripted introductions and conclusions: Write out your introduction and conclusion verbatim. This makes sure you start and end your presentation with confidence.

  • Bullet points for key content: Use bullet points or a detailed outline for the main content of your presentation. This can help you stay organised and on track.

  • Practice flexibility: While having a script is helpful, don't be afraid to deviate slightly if the situation calls for it. Flexibility can make your presentation more engaging. For me, the plan is key, however I plan in spots for flexibility.

Top tip 7: Use technology to your advantage Technology can be a valuable tool:

  • Teleprompter apps: Consider using teleprompter apps on a tablet or laptop to display your script discreetly. This can help you maintain a steady pace and stay on track.

  • Rehearse with Coach: As mentioned previously, leverage the Rehearse with Coach feature in PowerPoint to get feedback on your eye contact and more.

  • Timer and reminder apps: Use timer and reminder apps to keep track of your presentation's timing and key points. This can help you keep a structured flow in case you get lost in your focus.

Top tip 8: Practice relaxation techniques Managing anxiety and stress is essential for delivering a successful presentation:

  • Deep breathing: Practice deep breathing exercises to stay calm and centred before and during your presentation.

  • Visualisation: Use visualisation techniques to imagine yourself giving a confident and engaging presentation.

  • Create a pre-presentation routine: To use our love of routine, create a pre-presentation routine of actions that you will always do before presenting. That way your head and body automatically gets in to presentation mode when you start the routine. One of mine is to take any keys, coins and wallet out of my pockets and pop them in a bag. That way I have nothing that will jingle and it gets me in the zone.

Top tip 9: Seek support and adjustments Don't hesitate to seek support and adjustments if needed:

  • Communicate with your employer: Inform your employer or supervisor about your specific needs and challenges. They may be able to provide adjustments or support.

  • Use visual or written prompts: If you have trouble remembering key points, use visual or written prompts during your presentation. For example if you are presenting via Teams or Zoom simply having some sticky notes on your screen to remind you of your key points can be helpful.

  • Consider a co-presenter: If appropriate, partner with a colleague who can assist with certain aspects of the presentation, such as handling questions or transitions. Doing a tag team presentation can be more engaging anyway.

Top tip 10: Post-presentation reflection and improvement After your presentation, take the time to reflect on what went well and what could be improved:

  • Self-reflection: Analyse your performance objectively. What did you do well, and what areas need improvement?

  • Ask for feedback: Ask for feedback from trusted colleagues or mentors. Their insights can help you refine your presentation skills.

  • Continuous learning: Consider enrolling in presentation skills workshops or courses to continually improve your abilities. Also simply watching other presenters and stealing what you see and hear them do well is a great way of building your presenting tools.

Conclusion Presentations can be challenging, but they are also opportunities for growth and showcasing your expertise. For individuals with low support autism, preparation, understanding your audience, and using your unique strengths are key to giving engaging presentations. Remember, practice makes permanent, embrace your uniqueness, and let your ideas shine! #presenting #autism #coaching

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