How do some people give killer presentations while others simply flop? In the majority of cases, it’s preparation. Most people will be at least slightly, if not very, nervous, before speaking publicly. The trick is to channel those nerves into something positive, rather than seeing it as a failure before you even begin. Here are Alison’s top five tips for giving a killer presentation:
Sitting down and thinking about what it is you want to get across is the very first thing you need to do. What is the presentation about? What are the main points you need to get across?
Create Your Story
Think of your presentation as a story – you have a story to tell and you want to tell it in the most effective way possible. By having a beginning, middle and an end, your presentation would be just like any other story. Make sure that it’s clear, concise, sticks to the point, and doesn’t try to fit in too many points. Think of crafting a story – you want it to flow, to be entertaining, to engage – all the things that make a great story. Telling a story that the whole audience can relate to is a great way to start a presentation. It piques attention and creates interest from the get go. The same goes for the end; tell an interesting story to close and you’ll be onto a winner.
Practice is one of the most important things you can do. Reading from a slide or directly from notes is a no-no – you need to be comfortable enough with the content so that you can focus on connecting with your audience, as opposed to trying to remember the information – this means practice, practice, practice. If you need prompts, a few bullet points on a card that you can glance at every now and then should get you through.
Connect with your audience
Eye contact is another clincher. You’re attempting to connect with your audience, so look at them. If you’re too busy looking at notes or staring at your feet through nervousness, you’ll lose the connection straight away. Equally, projecting your voice so that it comes across as commanding and engaging, without being aggressive, will hold the audience’s attention. If you’re using a PowerPoint Presentation, using a maximum of ten slides is recommended. Try not to focus your whole presentation around the slides. They should be used as a guide, not a focus.
Fake it till You Make It
Staying confident is essential. While you might be quivering with nervousness, remaining calm and in control is key. Believe you’re going to give a great presentation. Nerves are a normal part of speaking in front of people; try channeling your nerves into giving a great presentation, into having a more powerful voice and into putting more passion into your presentation.
Have an important work presentation coming up that you have to ace? Learn more about presentation skills and the art of business communication with Alison’s free online Business Communication courses.