● By Mel Sim
It’s going to take more than just fancy slides….
Whether it’s for work or school, great presentation skills will take you far. First, you make your point across clearly and with impact, which will work in your favour if you are trying to win over a new client or impress the new management team. Second, great presentation skills make you memorable in a good way, which will help push your case for a promotion or a raise. And third, well, being able to present well means your confident level is pretty great, and that’s always a plus for everyone.
That said, it’s not easy to do! Some days you may be feeling top of the world after a stellar presentation; some days you’ll be cringing inside knowing that your 30 minutes presentation completely bombed. And whether it is your first or 100th time presenting, the nerves will always be there.
So here we are, to give you some tips on how to ace your next presentation so you score full marks with everyone.
#1 Watch how others do it and take notes!
Impressed with the way your boss presents a new product? Watch and learn, they say! Look to some speakers you admire and watch how they present – from their body language to the way they speak. Take notes and pick up tips on how they command a room. You can also watch online videos of lectures or speeches (like on TED) and see if you can follow some of the styles of the people you admire. But just make sure it is something you are comfortable doing because if you’re not, it’s going to be so obvious you’re way out of your element.
#2 Do your own material
Nothing like having to present someone else’s material to get you completely nervous and out of sync. It always helps to know the topic you’re presenting and to do this, you need to know your stuff. Prepare your own slides and write your own notes. Do your own research and think of the message you want to deliver and make it your own.
#3 Incorporate your personality
If you are a fun and bubbly person, let it shine in your presentation! Your audience will enjoy the presentation if they feel connected to you, and the only way to do this is to be yourself. Share a few personal experiences to make your presentation like storytelling, which is more engaging and interesting compared to someone just reading out notes. Loosen up your body language, use your hands to express yourself more, be comfortable about being yourself. It works all the time!
#4 Speak slowly
Yes, you want to get through the presentation as quickly as possible. No, you don’t want to rush through it because you will lose your audience midway! People tend to speak faster when they are nervous so first things first, ease your nerves before the presentation. Articulate your words. Use deliberate pauses to emphasise key points. Practise your pace and most importantly, don’t forget to breathe! Keep a bottle of water nearby. Dry mouth is a common result of anxiety and you want to keep yourself hydrated so you are comfortable. Taking a few pauses to sip some water will help pace yourself as well.
#5 Start and end with a bang
First impressions matter, even in a presentation. Start your presentation with a fascinating story that relates to the topic to get your audience riveted right from the beginning. Maybe it can be a personal story or a shocking statement. Make it something your audience can relate with or something that will make them interested to learn more. Then end your presentation with the conclusion of the story you began your speech with, like creating a narrative throughout your presentation. Or with a call to action to get your audience invested in the message you’re trying to get across. Start strong, end strong!
#6 Practise, practise, practise
Practice makes perfect, and in the case of presentations, practice will help you become more comfortable with your content so when you’re presenting, it’s like second nature. It is also to ensure you don’t stumble on words or forget key points. It’s also great to see if you’ve gone over time and what you need to do to keep it short and sweet.
Bonus: Virtual Presentations!
Yes, these are becoming increasingly popular and you want to ace them as well. Presenting virtually requires a whole new skillset and it’s important to learn them now as we see more and more presentations going online instead. Capturing your audience’s attention while they are behind a screen is even more difficult! A few basic things you need to get right – your internet connection (nothing is more annoying than the internet line dropping so often during your presentation), proper webcam and lighting, getting used to the technology you’re using (the programme you’re using, your laptop for example).
Then the key to successful virtual presentations is to keep eye contact with the camera and be as naturally as possible. It’s easier to present from behind a screen because you can feel less nervous as compared to being in a room filled with strangers. But it is easier to lose your audience’s interest if your presentation is simply you reading from a screen. When you keep eye contact with the camera, the people watching your presentation will feel more connected and engaged. You also appear more confident and authentic.
Photo by Jason Goodman on Unsplash
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