Master Presenting

Stop The Awkwardness—Present with Confidence

A.D.D. and Presenting


Photo Credit: Louve Solitaire via Compfight cc

I see this more often than not—the skilled presenters, the creators, the ones who have this deep dive connection with their audience have Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D. or A.D.H.D.) as the sky is blue. Being a member of that tribe myself I can understand it. When we present, when we are in front of an audience of 1 or 10,000 our brains light up like Times Square before the ball hits. We find we are “all there.” 

Now, this is when our A.D.D. serves us well. We feel the tempo of the audience; we answer the questions with brevity, wit and intelligence. But the audience does not see our struggle before and after our presentation. We simply smile if there’s applause. We give a wave and hope we appear flawless.

But my A.D.D. brothers and sisters know the truth. So let’s talk about the pink elephant in the room. How can we manage our presenting lives with our A.D.D. brain? 


One of our problems is information capture. When we are developing  a presentation, how do we get all the source material we need. How do we funnel it so it’s not scattered on a hundred bits of paper across 20 notebooks? I’ve talked about Evernote before and how I use it. But I have a little system that I use to capture the best articles on the web about my topic, free of signup requests and advertising (using Pocket!) Here’s how I do it:

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With a couple of swipes and touches, I’m gathering great, fresh content I can skim, assess and store. Instead of being overwhelmed, I can create a constant flow of perusable content—ditch what I don’t like, and keep what I love. I also have a Notebook labeled “{name of talk and date}” so I can curate and store that information. (And I can share it with other people, like the boss that I am.) 


Sometimes before I have to speak, present or teach, my morning can be a train wreck. I’m out of coffee or I’m low on gas. Something happens and I start to feel the day tilt and I’m not doing well at all. I have some nerves about the presentation and that overwhelming feeling starts to hit. That sense of panic. 

Here’s why—our willpower and resilience runs low most days. When we have a rough morning, it can set the tone for the rest of the day and perhaps our presentation. 

Here’s my secret to reducing the random flux of the day—I prep EVERYTHING the night before and for every task below that I don’t do, I add 15 minutes to my wake up time. So if I don’t get three things done below and I plan on waking up at 7 AM, I shall arise at 6:15 AM. Ugh. 

Breakfast.  It’s going to be liquid—kale, spinach, some protein, almond milk and maybe a banana. I have that all set in the refrigerator, throw it in the blender and K-BAM. I’m done. (I explain this much more in depth in here.) 

Bag. I prepare my speaking bag of adapters, business cards, and my computer the night before. I also ship my presentation online as much as I can. I have snacks in there: beef jerky and almonds plus a bottle of water.

Car. I make sure my little Honda is full on the gas. Full. Not halfsies. FULL. 

Clothes. I have these put out with no decisions in the morning. Not what tie. Not what shirt. Done. 

This preparation does not take much time and it saves you multiple headaches in the morning. 


When I’m done presenting, due to being completely on due to my A.D.D., a crash follows after I present. This acute exhaustion hits me like a ton of bricks, a weird maelstrom of adrenaline depletion and lack of caloric intake. And I might not have the choice to step away. I might be doing a Q and A right after. Maybe I’m heading to another presentation or I just need to meet with people to follow up. Here’s how I prepare for the crash:

  • I hit my snacks hard when I’m done and then I intake as much as water as I do caffeine. If I solely use caffeine, I’m in trouble because my entire self going to jittery town.
  • I pack up my stuff immediately after. Every connector, computer and scrap of paper is ready to be tossed in a bag. I know if I don’t attend that stuff first, I’ll forget something vital.
  • Have I had my computer shipped to me multiple times? I’ll never tell.
  • If you can, get away for just 15 minutes alone in some quiet. Put in some headphones with some music that doesn’t ramp you up and just simmer a bit. 

You may have to time this operation well. But you have to give your brain a softer reset—going from 5th gear to 1st gear isn’t a great move. 

These strategies help us A.D.D.ers celebrate our strengths and manage our weaknesses letting us before at our best. 

{I’ve written a little book on my best A.D.D. strategies. It’s $9 on pre-order here. It’s honestly some of my best work. Thanks for checking it out.}

About Ryan McRae

Ryan McRae has presented all over the world from South Africa to Afghanistan. He has spoken and designed presentations for Fortune 100 companies and wants this tech-focused culture to be able to speak well and with confidence.

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