Almost every professional needs to give presentations as part of their career. This can be an anxiety-provoking experience for anyone, but the nerves are much worse when you are not confident in your presenting ability. Improving your presentation skills can help to give you the confidence you need to handle presentations with ease. Take a look at these simple rules for giving a presentation that engages your audience and encourages them to take on board the message you are trying to communicate.
Keep it Simple
One of the worst things that you can do when giving a presentation is to try to cram in every piece of information even remotely relevant to the topic at hand. You need to identify a single, clear message that you want to communicate in your presentation, and then structure the presentation to make your argument in a straightforward and logical way.
Effective Presentation Structure
Every presentation needs a clear introduction and conclusion. During the introduction, you should briefly outline the contents of your talk so that your audience knows what to expect. For example, if you are giving a presentation about a project your team has been working on, then your introduction should let the audience know that you will be first talking about the motivation for the project, and then discussing the methods you used, before going on to report the outcomes.
The conclusion should bring the whole of your presentation together, drawing attention to the key points that you have made during your talk. You might feel as though you are repeating yourself, but key points often need to be stated more than once if you want them to stick in audience members’ minds once the presentation is over.
Most oral presentations are accompanied by a set of slides projected onto a screen behind the speaker. The advice given above about keeping things simple applies just as much to your slides as it does to the words you speak. Do not overfill your slides; include only the key information. Above all, do not fill your slides with the exact same words that you are delivering orally – your audience does not need to read the same information as they are hearing. Instead, include graphs, infographics, or charts to back up the points you are making in your speech.
The most ubiquitous tool used for creating presentations in the business world is Microsoft PowerPoint. Learn how to use PowerPoint 2010 effectively with this online course.
Are You Telling or Selling?
Being clear about the purpose of your presentation is key to being an effective speaker. Is the purpose of your presentation simply to communicate essential information to your colleagues, or are you trying to sell an idea to the audience? Persuasive presentations require a different approach than those that simply inform. If you need help brushing up on your ability to pitch effectively, take a look at this free online webinar from Pitch For Success.
Speaking Clearly and Managing Nerves
Great presenters are not characterized only by their ability to write great presentations, but also for their ability to engage with the audience while speaking. Some key ways to grab your audience’s attention are as follows:
- Speak loudly enough to be clearly audible.
- Make eye contact.
- Vary tone of voice rather than speaking in a monotone.
- Speak slowly and use pauses for effect.
- Don’t be overly reliant on visual aids; encourage the audience to look at and notice you as the speaker.
When used correctly, these techniques can revamp and revitalize your presenting style, turning you from a dull presenter to a fascinating speaker that everyone wants to listen to. This Public Speaking Made Easy course contains some great tips for using your voice to the best effect when presenting, so that you can grab and hold the attention of your audience.