A perfect presentation is only as good as the person delivering it. No matter how informative, tailored, visually interesting and relevant the content - if the delivery is poor the message will be lost. Most people don’t inherently possess strong presenting skills, and many find it difficult communicating to a large (or even small) number of people.
If you don’t have the opportunity for formal coaching there are key areas you can personally focus on to improve your skills. Here are our six tips to perfecting your presentation skills:
I know you’ve heard it before, but first impressions really do count. The first two to three minutes of a presentation is your chance to engage your audience. Make eye contact, smile and if appropriate use humour to break the ice. The audience want to like you, give them a reason to continue listening.
Know your speech well and avoid reading to the audience. PowerPoint can be great for providing cues to help you keep your momentum, but don’t directly read off the slide. To keep the audience engaged use a discussion tone, providing additional insights into the points made on your presentation. This will help you build trust with your audience by showing them you know what you are talking about.
Let’s be honest, we all know we can have short attention spans when it comes to passively sitting and listening to a speaker even when we are genuinely interested in the topic . The best way to keep your content concise and avoid repetition is to practice, review and time your presentation as much as you can.
Speaking too fast is often a sign of nerves and can make it hard for your audience to follow and understand your message. Use techniques such as taking a sip of water to slow you down – it works for me every time.
Get closer to your audience by moving away from or in front of the podium. Removing physical barriers will help you build rapport and make a connection. Standing still will make you look rigid and make your audience feel uncomfortable. Moving around will also give you the opportunity to make eye contact and connect with a wider range of people in the audience.
Nothing is worse than a speaker you can’t hear. Even in the high-tech world of microphones and amplifiers, it’s still important you focus on your voice. Projecting your voice doesn’t mean yelling, rather standing up straight and letting your voice resonate.
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