Ultimate Guide To Improving Your Presentation Skills7 mins - Introduction
While delivering a presentation, you’re the focal point (you should be) and you’re basically presenting your entire self in front of your audience: your body language, vocal skills, intellectual skills and capability, quality of content, level of confidence, etcetera. Your ability to connect effectively and confidently with your audience is tested and is ultimately reflected in the way the audience responds.
The mention of confidence, connection and the audience is bound to make many out there uneasy as not all of us are comfortable with exposure or being in the spotlight; not all of us possess quality presentation skills. Not to worry! After you go through this guide and follow it, we assure you that you will learn to present yourself & your content in a better way in no time and even gain the confidence you have always desired to have! Preparation is a key factor and we are going to help you prepare with the following steps!
Step 1: Lay Out Your Presentation’s Objectives and Goals
Keeping the ultimate goal in your mind throughout while preparing for your presentation will most definitely give you a sense of direction and help you stay focused. Defined objectives and goals will also help you in serving the primary purpose of the whole presentation and capturing your audience’s attention. Goals vary depending on the intent and nature of the delivering party. Nevertheless, below are three of the most common ones in the (generally) business world.
— Motivate and Inspire
— Convince and Persuade
— Educate and Inform
Moreover, your predefined goals will also aid you in developing a suitable call to action which stays in-line with the ultimate objective.
Note: Calls to action will vary depending on your personalized goal.
Step 2: Study your Audience and Plan Content & Deliverance Accordingly
The whole purpose and success of your presentation revolves your audience. Your presentation skills need to be up to the mark in order for you to deliver captivatingly. When planning content for your presentation, it is also imperative for you to know WHO your audience is and WHAT it expects of you.
Tailor-making your content and talk while keeping your prospective audience in mind is what’ll get you through to it, allow you to develop a much-needed connection and ultimately enhance your presentation skills greatly. Ask yourself the following key questions (and other relevant ones you can think of) during the process of your presentation’s development.
What similarities do you have with these people?
Knowing these will enable you to talk about your subject more comfortably and enjoyably as the common ground will allow you to speak naturally.
What is the gender ratio?
Knowledge about the diversity of your audience’s genders will help you in respecting all genders and avoiding gender-related, controversial statements during your presentation.
How is your presentation supposed to benefit them?
Make it a point to portray your valuable ideas, products or services in a positive light. This is a vital aspect as the claimed benefit(s) can be emphasized on time after time by relating them to the existing problems the audience is facing and can, hence, enable better targeting.
Do they have any prior knowledge about your subject?
If your audience has no clue about your subject, spare them the technical jargon and switch to simple and easy to understand English. This will give off a positive impression about your thoughtfulness and awareness of ‘your people’!
Step 3: Start Preparing your Content and/or Presentation Slides
Once you have a clear direction and a comprehensive understanding of your audience, you are ready to start working on the content you will be presenting vocally and visually. If you really want to learn to present effectively, make sure that you do not slack off while executing this crucial step. Go about it this way:
Thanks to the Internet and the global community it has birthed over the years, information from all around the world is readily available over the web. Make use of it to the fullest! Educate yourself as much as you can about the subject you are planning on presenting.
Sufficient knowledge will enable you to speak more fluently and even improvise in case you make any errors on the final day!
Create your speech’s outline and write out the speech
A speech outline will guide you and provide you with a clear view of how your presentation is supposed to flow smoothly, staying inside the allotted time-frame.
Try to make your speech’s introduction as captivating as possible because this is the time your audience is going to decide whether you’re ‘worth their time’ or not. Provide them with a comprehensive and relatable intro to indulge them and pique their interest.
For a presentation, less is more (mostly). Your speech’s main body should not comprise of boring and monotonous sentences; try to make precise and important points throughout this phase. In case you have charts or graphs to display, filter and pick two or three of them.
Make sure the ending of your speech is impactful and doesn’t leave the audience confused. Rather, it is supposed to leave them thinking about your ideas and solutions and how they can use your call to action to their benefit.
Finally, write out your complete speech using the outline. Do it freely and calmly but keep your boundaries in mind. Keep retouching it from time to time as the first write will just be a rough draft. Retouching and reworking can involve constructive feedback from your co-workers or partners which can really help you.
Prepare presentation slides
You can take a hands-on or hands-off approach when making your presentation slides. The former will require you to invest in some effort and time while the latter will allow you to sit back and leave the ‘technical’ task to external designers. Either way, they should be attractive and attention-grabbing. Visual engagement is a key element of a successful and indulging presentation and you wouldn’t want to miss out on that!
Step 4: Build Your Confidence & Polish Your Presentation
25 percent of the total population has a fear of public speaking. Confidence is a key element and goes a long way in shaping up a person’s presentation skills. For you to learn to present well and effectively, you need to ‘look’ and ‘feel’ confident before and while delivering your presentation. This can be made possible by following some of our simple tips.
— Practice makes a man perfect and that’s what you’ll need to do every day to be comfortable with your content and slides.
— Don’t let the negativity in your head get to you. More often than ever, we are our own biggest and most lethal critics. Remember to track your progress and be positive about it to achieve success.
— Encourage yourself through positive affirmations regularly. This may just be the best way to deal with that cruel inner critic and gain confidence.
— While practicing, visualize your audience and the entire venue. Present like it’s the big day already. Further, visualize your success in the form of positive gestures from the audience and applause. Entering that positive space will help you in speaking with a lot more confidence.
When it comes to polishing your presentation, you can do it easily by integrating some exercises into your daily practice sessions and polish your own presentation skills continuously until the big day arrives.
Work on and with your voice every day. Speak clearly, loudly, softly, gently and perfect each of these variations as you’ll need a balanced mixture during your presentation. Try speaking into a mic and recording your voice to work on it more precisely. Moreover, make sure that you’ve got your pauses right. Pauses are essential components of a presentation which is why you need to make the most out of them; pause any time you feel like you should (if you’re rambling or going too fast) and use that time to assess the expressions and responses of your audience.
Working on your body language and facial expressions is extremely important as these greatly affect the deliverance of your message to your audience and the outcomes. For the latter, practice smiling genuinely and seeming approachable and friendly to your audience. For the former, work on maintaining a sober and positive body language. Remember that the members of your audience will follow your body’s lead!
Step 5: Tips for the Big Day
So, the day finally arrives and you are obviously feeling a bit anxious and jittery. Try to push these feelings aside and go on-stage with that genuine sense of confidence that has built up inside of you after all those practice sessions. It is there, believe it or not. Go through everything positively in your mind; you have prepared for this, you know the content and you are ready in every way! Your positive mindset will greatly reflect on your performance and help you achieve success (we are sure of that!).
Note: Your appearance will matter so make sure you dress according to the theme of your presentation. Moreover, there is no window for late arrivals. Be at the venue well before the audience’s arrival time, prepare, practice and get things done!