The chances are that at some point in your career, you are going to have to deliver a presentation. From team results to strategic objectives to long-term vision, you may well find yourself on your feet in front of an audience.
So what are the skills you need to hone in order to ensure that you get your messages across with minimal nerves and maximum impact?
Gearing up to Presenting in Public
Did you know that there’s actually a word for fear of speaking or presenting in public? It is called glossophobia, and it affects a whopping 80% of people. From clammy hands, nerves, and the jitters, most of us feel some kind of anxiety when we have to stand up and present to other people.
Well, first off, it might help to understand that for most of us, fear – or stage fright -tends to stem from a sense that we cannot control something.
Gaining control of a situation means knowing as much about it as possible and preparing well in advance.
And the same is true of presenting. Thus it is importance to know what it means to be a good presenter.
Key elements to your preparation include:
- Thoroughly understanding who your audience is
- What is your audience’s expectation of your presentation?
- What is the subject of the presentation?
- Logistics of the event or location?
- How long do you need to present and at what time?
- Any technical considerations?
- What attire will be most appropriate?
Beyond that, the team here at NetAcad Advantage has consulted the likes of Ted Talks and the secrets shared by world-class presenters to assemble a number of key tips and hints to help you perfect the art of public presentation.
7 Tips for the Perfect Presentation
So you have done your preparation and you know who your audience is and what their needs are. Kick off your presentation by clearly stating your message.
1. Get to the point.
Most times, your audience will not want to follow your processes, they will want to know your conclusions. Start out from the beginning by being clear about what you want to share.
Clarity in communication is also about consistency.
2. Use a clear template.
That means you need to stick to the same font, formatting, headers, style, and so on with your visual presentation. It is very important to keep your visual language consistent. And that goes for use of photos and visuals too. Choose them with care to illustrate your point. Treat clipart with caution and avoid its use if you can.
Remember, your slides are a prop not the actual presentation. They are a tool to illustrate what you talk about.
3. Write your script first.
Plan out what you are going to say before you create the visuals to support your presentation.
Build a clear outline. Open with an introduction that sets out what your key message is and why it matters. Explain the benefits or supporting messages that affirm your key idea. And end with a call to action.
Use bullets to create sub-points. This outline should not contain long sentences and paragraphs—it should be short statements or phrases.
4. Slides should be the supporting cast, not the main feature.
Now that you have your script ready, you can see what your major points are and you should notice a pattern of how to group content together in sections. Create slides that visually assist what you are saying—but do not put your script on those slides.
Keep slides concise. Keep to one message per slide. When possible try to use graphics, icons, graphs, charts, or stock photography to replace words.
5. Review your slides – and make sure text is kept to a minimum.
Read over your slides and look at it from the perspective of the audience. Is your presentation up to standards? Are your messages clear? How will your audience react?
Remember that too much text will mean that your audience ends up reading when they should be listening to you. Never compete with your slides for your audience’s attention. Your slides should enhance your speech, not detract from it.
6. Print a copy of your presentation.
Depending on how you are presenting, you may want to print a copy of your script and slides. If you will be doing a video-based presentation, you can possibly get away with using a second laptop/computer screen to put your script on while you share your other screen with your audience.
Having a physical reminder on hand in case something unexpected happens or you lose your thought process along the way, is a great way to get back on track. You can glance back at your outline and see what was next.
7. Practice makes perfect!
Now that your script and slides are ready, it is time to practice going through your full presentation. Run through it as many times as needed until you feel comfortable and confident.
Practicing it in advance will also work to calm your nerves as it will not be the first time you deliver the presentation. Also, your memory of your practice sessions will help you remember your script—which means you hopefully will not have to reference it too much.
Remember that no one masters any new skill immediately. Expertise comes with trial, effort, and experience.
Being open to presenting and seeing each occasion as a chance to hone your skills further will stand you in great stead.
NetAcad Advantage Reading Note: For more advice on how to hone your presentation skills, watch our webinar series that has six sessions that dives into the various aspects of perfecting your presentation.