Love it or hate it, giving a presentation is something you’ll probably have to do at some point in your life. It doesn’t matter if you’re presenting to your peers or a group of strangers, mastering the art of public speaking usually is pretty challenging. From sweaty hands to nervous jitters, there’s no easy way to get comfortable when all eyes are on you. Fortunately, there are several techniques that can help you overcome your fears when giving a presentation. Here are the top five!
Properly preparing is the first step to guaranteeing an excellent presentation. Start by examining the audience members. What are their expectations? What is the message you want them to walk away with? Answering these questions will help to structure your delivery.
After you identify your audience, focus on the topic and key points of the presentation. Think about your approach to discussing each point and how to naturally transition from one to the next. Paying mind to this will make for an organized, smooth presentation.
Visual elements can make or break a presentation. Without something to look at and follow along with, audience members tend to disengage. Visuals not only guide the flow of the presentation, but they also set the tone. For instance, if you’re speaking about a subject you know is boring, you might use your visuals as an opportunity to lighten the mood by adding funny pictures or relevant memes to maintain audience interest.
Whichever visual you choose — PowerPoint, Prezi, or poster — remember that less is more. An overload of information can make it difficult for your audience to read and retain. Rather than long paragraphs and lengthy sentences, list bullet points to emphasize the fundamental points of the presentation and audience takeaways.
The saying, practice makes perfect, is cliché for a reason — it’s 100% true! The more you practice your skills, the better they’ll get. Now, this is not to say you should dedicate every minute of the day practicing your presentation. Instead, spend a few hours each day to work on the material and rehearse your delivery.
One of the most effective ways to practice a presentation is by actually standing up and speaking out loud. Begin by first giving yourself the presentation. Whether you stand in front of a mirror or record yourself speaking it’s important to acknowledge your nonverbal gestures and how they align with the content of your speech. Typically, when people become nervous, they start to develop “presenting tics” which can act as a distraction for your audience. Using “Filler words” or playing with your hair excessively, for example, are two common nervous tics that negatively impact the power of a presentation. Be sure you’re on the lookout for these throughout your practice so you can catch yourself, make adjustments, and feel ready to deliver a smooth presentation once the big day comes!
There’s no question about it — when you look good, you feel good, and when it comes to a presentation, confidence is everything. As a person in the spotlight, you want to make sure you establish the right first impression with your audience. Since more than half of the population base their first impressions on a person’s physical appearance, you’ll want to be mindful of how you look. Specifically, pay close attention to your hair, teeth, and professional attire.
- Hair – Male or female, your hair should be healthy, well-kempt and out of your face. Find solutions that are equipped for your hair type. For men with thinning hair, think about using a hair loss treatment a couple of weeks before the presentation, and for women, consider taking fewer, colder showers well in advance. For thick, dry hair, on the other hand, consider using a hairspray, hair gel, or hair serum.
- Teeth – Your smile may be regarded as your most notable feature so you must take the time to tend to your pearly whites. Brush and floss your teeth before your presentation, especially if you consume anything that could stain and darken your teeth.
- Attire – Your professional attire normally follows the type of presentation you’re giving. For example, if you’re speaking at a team meeting, you can probably get away with jeans and a nice shirt. But if you’re speaking at a press conference, you’ll want to wear something more formal such as a dress or a suit and tie.
Have you ever sat through a presentation where the speaker ended with something like, “yeah so that’s it…?” Chances are, you have. Ending a presentation with a weak conclusion can hinder your audience’s understanding of your message, so it’s essential to deliver a closing that’s clear and direct. Recap the purpose of your presentation and reiterate its primary concepts. Then, provide your audience with a call-to-action. What do you want your audience to do when they leave the presentation?
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