Most of us, at some point in our career, will be asked to address our peers, talk in front of colleagues at a company meeting or speak on behalf of an organization to bring clarity to proceedings on occasion.
If given the choice, most of us would rather not present in front of a group of people. Some of us may even suffer from stage fright or anxiety attacks. However, public speaking or presentation skills is something we have to learn and master, if we want to progress in our career.
Here are the top ten presentation tips to help improve your public speaking skills and build new confidence for a successful presentation.
Careful planning for your presentation is pivotal in eliciting a favourable response from your audience. First of all, determine who your target audience is, what your message is, and what objective you hope to achieve.
Understand the demographics, cultures, issues, challenges or celebrations of your audience. If the content you develop is appropriately tailored to your audience, the effectiveness of your pitch will be exceptionally high.
2) Presentation Style
It is important to remember that your audience can only process so much information at one time. Do not overload your audience with long sentences and big words. Keep your sentences short with one main idea. Short sentences are easier to understand, comprehend and deliver.
Pause between important points. When you take the time to pause, you give your audience a chance to think about what you just said and this will allow them to better retain your information.
3) Body Language And Eye Contact
Watch your posture and do not slouch. Standing tall breeds confidence. While you are speaking, be sure to keep eye contact with your audience. Having direct eye contact with your audience helps build rapport with your audience. And don’t forget to smile!
Before your presentation, have a mental rehearsal of your speech and visualize how you are going to present to your audience. Visualize the warm response and enthusiasm that you’ll be greeted with.
This way, not only will you be well prepared, you will also present with confidence. Being absolutely focused will also help to dispel any anxiety which you may be experiencing.
5) Emotional State And Tonality
You will need to balance IQ and EQ. Be observant on the response of your audience. Do not talk down, but rather talk to your audience. Pretend that you are engaging in a conversation with your audience. No one likes arrogance, but everyone will appreciate humility.
If you want to use humor in a presentation, do not use it at the expense of someone else. You could alienate your audience and your message will be totally lost. Instead, you could make fun of yourself to inject humor into your speech. Laughing at yourself without belittling yourself is a good way to endear yourself to the audience.
6) Passion And Experience
Your presentation will be far more compelling if you are passionate about the subject, and if you are able to include some form of storytelling and talk about your own experiences.
When you are speaking from your own experiences, chances are that you will rely less on your notes. This will help you maintain eye contact with your audience and continue to capture their attention.
Even the best speakers will never skip this step. If you are going on stage to speak, walk around the stage and plan how you are going to use the stage to the fullest to bring the audience to you. When speaking, don’t just move for the sake of moving, move with a purpose.
If you are going to use flip charts and other presentation equipment, be sure to familiarize with the use of the equipment, and that they are placed at a position that is most comfortable for you.
8) Rest And Relaxation
Be sure to get adequate sleep the night before your presentation. A well rested body and sharp mind will increase your effectiveness as a speaker as you may be required to think on your feet.
Take in a few deep breaths a few minutes before your presentation to help reduce nervousness. It also helps slow your heart rate, enhance your voice and allows you to gain more control over your tempo.
Dress professionally. Proper attire and shoes can make a big impact and lift your confidence at the right moment. A proper suit, shirt, tie, belt and proper business shoes are most suitable for men.
For the ladies, a well tailored skirt and / or jacket, a blouse, appropriate accessories and closed up shoes work best for women. Avoid revealing clothing, loud and chunky jewelery.
Starting late creates a bad impression. It will mean you will need to work harder to win the audience back. If you are speaking at a venue you’ve never been to, be sure to arrive early so that you can get a sense and feel of the environment beforehand.
Be sure to end on time too. Your audience’s time is important to them. They will expect to leave on time unless they wish to stay behind to ask questions.