Sooner or later, we all need to make presentations, be it formal or informal.
This may be a business presentation, sales pitch, a speech, project defense, teaching, or just giving a talk on an interesting topic.
An effective presentation is as important as the information you are trying to pass across. That is why this blog post covers ways you can improve your presentation skills.
Why Give a Presentation?
The purpose of giving a presentation may include informing, persuading, educating, training, selling etc.
Presenting your information clearly and effectively is a key factor in passing your message across to your audience.
In this blog post, we will be discussing 4 techniques to help you become a better communicator.
Great speakers aren’t born, they are trained.
1. Planning Your Presentation
Anyone can give a presentation, but to give an effective one, you need to plan and prepare for it. Presentation planning would involve the following:
- Purpose: Before anything else, knowing the purpose of your presentation is very important. Your purpose will guide your tone, approach, length etc., while presenting.
- Know your audience: Before going in for your presentation, do your research, know who your audience are, know if they are students, parents or marketers. This will help you set up the content and structure of the presentation properly. Your audience will determine what you present, how you present it, and how long you present for.
- Organize your main points: If you need to research on the topic, do so. Read as much as you can and then arrange your points. Ensure that your points are well ordered and understandable.
Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you’ve just told them.
- Rehearse ahead: Take your time to rehearse. If you need to, stand in front of your mirror and present your speech to yourself. You could even use your phone video/sound recorder to get an accurate result of how well you perform. You could also rehearse in front of friends/family so they can point out your errors.
2. The Presentation Sequence
Your audience will listen more if they are enjoying themselves. Do not be too rigid while passing across your information.
Know that you are in control of your audience’s perception of your presentation, so start on time and make the presentation sequence as smooth as you can.
- Build rapport: Walk in with confidence and immediately build rapport with your audience. Remember to smile and wave your hands at them. Building rapport will let your audience relax and warm up to you.
- Give a good opening: Introduce yourself, tell a short (funny) joke or story relating to your topic while using your natural humor.
- Get audience response: Stimulate responses or reactions from your audience. You can use content or activities to stir their reaction, emotions or even physical involvement. Getting your audience to respond will help them concentrate more and remain focused on you.
- Clearly, define your topic: Think about your aim, identify the objective of the presentation and define your topic clearly. Your audience should understand what you are talking about and what they should expect to learn.
- Give an overview and summarize the main points: List out the objectives, topics, and main action points. This will give them an insight to what they should focus on.
3. Creating Effective Visual Aids
If you are using visual aids for your presentations, you need to make sure they are effective and not just for decoration.
- Design good slides: If you are not good with designs, just use the simpler slides, make your slides clear and concise. Do not present too many slides, you only need to write the key points on the slides.
- Be mindful of your content: Consider your audience while creating your content. Do not be too playful or too serious with your content. Avoid the use of colloquial languages, dirty slang, abbreviations, etc. Ensure you use the correct font and font size.
- Avoid the use of distracting visual aids: Too many images might distract your audience or stir up negative reactions. Select your visual aids carefully.
- Consistency: Be consistent with your visual aids during the presentation. Don’t use too many colourful slides. Use consistent slide templates, fonts, font sizes and placement throughout your slides.
4. Effective Presentation Techniques
Even the best content will not suffice if you lack presentation techniques. Here are some techniques you should use for an effective presentation.
- Control of information: Make your audience perceive you as the thought leader. Research your subject and know what you’re talking about. Also allow your passion for the subject flow.
- The voice used: Be audible while presenting, do not shout, do not stress your voice, maintain the right tone.
- The right words: Say the right words at the right time, do not confuse or mix up words.
- Use of body language: Your body is the best visual aid. Gesticulate as much as you can, smile when you should and use your body as an expression of your presentation. Make eye contact with your audience.
- Prompts: It is normal for your audience to lose interest or take off their attention, but you are in control and you can call their attention back with prompts. Walk around the podium and use prompts like snapping your fingers.
- The right location: Before your presentation day, make sure you have been to the room you’ll be using, move around the space to see how comfortable it is for your audience. Do check the facilities as well.
- Confidence: Be confident on stage; try not to fret. Take deep breaths before you start and get your nerves together. With more practice, you’ll be able to start well.
I wish I could tell you that your first presentation will be perfect, but in reality, it might not be.
Presenting for the first time might be a challenge, but with practice and being mindful of the guidelines listed above, you will become better at giving excellent presentations.
Your turn: Do you have other ideas and tips for great presentations? Please leave a reply below.