Public speaking is considered one of the most common fears amongst people, and according to some psychologists it can be more distressing than the prospect of death! That might seem a little extravagant but this state of vulnerability IS incredibly daunting, and for many of us there comes a point in our careers when we have to face our demons and bite the ‘public speaking’ bullet. Presenting is probably one of the most common forms of public speaking, so to help you bring your ‘A Game’, we’ve prepared 13 top tips to help you nail your next presentation…
1. Be early
There’s nothing worse than being flustered before you start a presentation – it will show in your body language, your voice and the quality of your content. Leave plenty of time to arrive, set up, check equipment, run through your slides and familiarise yourself with the room.
2. Look the part
What’s the purpose of your presentation? Who’s your audience? What’s the impression you’re trying to create? The answers to these questions should be reflected in your dress, but as a general rule, the smarter the better!
Introducing yourself sounds obvious, but it can often be overlooked or forgotten when people feel under pressure. Remember to set some context before diving straight into your presentation by outlining who you are, what you do and why you are speaking about this particular subject.
4. Set the agenda
People like to know where they stand – in relationships, when entering into a contract, when making a purchase etc. And the same applies here. Always set an agenda up front to let your audience know what’s to come. It will help sustain their attention and add more of a structure to your talk.
5. Illustrate to communicate
When using PowerPoint to help convey your message, don’t fall into the trap of over-crowding your slides and revealing too much information. You’ll find that your audience naturally reads what’s in front of them and as a consequence will stop listening to you; diluting your message and reducing the emphasis on your key points. Images and graphs are much more captivating and act as an effective prompt for delivering your core messages.
6. Involve your audience
One sure fire way to make a person ‘switch off’ is to talk AT them. Whilst one-directional (no, not the band) communication is often inevitable during presentations, try to involve your audience by making strong eye contact and using phrases such as ‘have you ever found…’ or ‘I don’t know if it’s just me…’ etc.
7. Be enthusiastic
Try not to send your audience to sleep! With a bit of luck you’re passionate about your presentation subject – make this visible and excite your audience. And if not, well it’s probably one of the times when you’ll need to fake it…
8. Use your body language
It’s suggested that when communicating, non-verbal cues represent 80% of how the message is interpreted. So being aware of your body language is crucial. Simple things like smiling, using hand gestures and moving around whilst speaking can help keep your audience engaged.
9. Be aware of your audiences’ reaction
Are members of your audience looking at their watches, talking amongst themselves or staring at you vacantly? If yes, then it’s probably wise to play about with your style or adapt your content to win them back.
10. Leave something behind
You want your audience to remember your presentation right? Whether you’re leaving behind a copy of your notes, a novel gift or at the very least a business card; you can guarantee that you’ll make more of an impression if you leave something to remember you by!
11. Use your voice
How many times have you listened to a lecture, conference speaker or key-note address and been completely underwhelmed by the monotonous nature of the speaker’s voice? Don’t let this happen to you! Stand up to help project your voice and use pauses in your sentences to create suspension and keep your audience engaged.
12. Use your time wisely
Pace yourself. You’ve been given an allotted amount of time to present to a set group of people… they’re not going anywhere (with a bit of luck!). So, why the rush? Take your time when running through your presentation, if you’ve planned it properly you’ll be able to cover off your main points.
Quite possibly one of the most important components of delivering a good presentation. A lack of preparation and an unpolished performance is incredibly obvious. It’s by no means necessary to learn your presentation verbatim, but rehearsing your subject matter and practicing the transition from one slide to another is crucial. Many public speakers will often memorise the first couple of sentences of each section to improve the flow and reduce nerves before delving into the remaining content.
So, there you have it – 13 top tips to help you with delivering your next GREAT presentation! Can you recommend any others?