BPW International Blog
How to Be More Effective When Giving Presentations
When you are giving a presentation, the spotlight is on you. So, how can you make the best possible impression and use your presentation skills to capture the attention of the room and get your points across? Here are some important tips when giving presentations:
Begin With Confidence
The first few minutes of your presentation are very important, as this is when the audience will decide whether they are interested in what you have to say—or whether they will be politely feigning interest while waiting for you to finish. According to best-selling author Simon Sinek you shouldn’t start talking as soon as you get out on stage. Many people do this out of nerves and it might show your insecurity. Instead, take a deep breath and wait a few seconds before you begin. It will show the audience you are confident and in charge.
You can start your presentation off on a strong note by beginning with a story, a joke, a shocking statistic, or even an attention-grabbing image. This is also a great time to employ audience participation, because it will get people involved and invested in the presentation right away.
Connect With the Audience on an Emotional Level
You can appeal to their intellect, but if you really want to connect with your audience you should also reach them on an emotional level. It is important to come across as trustworthy and likeable so that the audience will bear positive emotions towards you.
You can do this by maintaining eye contact, being enthusiastic, smiling and speaking with sincerity to show that you believe in what you are saying. Tell some stories that show your vulnerability and your ability to laugh at yourself, as this will help people to relate to you on a more personal level. According to Kevin Daum, entrepreneur and best-selling author, humour is one of the best ways to establish rapport with your audience.
Don't Use Notes or a Script
For a more effective presentation, rehearse what you want to say until you have it memorised and can say it without looking at notes or a script. This will allow you to stand up straight, maintain eye contact with the audience, and project your voice more while you are speaking. A script acts as a barrier between you and the audience and your presentation will be much more effective without it. Simon Sinek also recommends making eye contact with specific members of the audience rather than panning across everyone. It will make a deeper connection and the entire audience will be able to feel it.
Keep It Simple
Another problem that many presenters have is that they try to fit in too much information into an unnecessarily long and confusing presentation. It is important to identify the key message that you want your audience to take away from your presentation.
Think about this main point and distill it down until you can say it in no more than 30 seconds. Then, go through your presentation and eliminate anything that doesn’t contribute to the audience’s understanding of that one key message.
Get Creative with Technology
Your presentation will go a lot more smoothly when you have put it together on a computer program that is specifically designed for this purpose. PowerPoint is a popular choice, but there are many other great options that will allow you to create a high quality presentation. CustomShow is cloud-based and allows you to create customised presentations, Prezi can be shared on different devices, and Haiku Deck helps you make elegant-looking presentations with over 35 million stock photos. These are just a few of the many options, so try a few and see which one works best for you.
A major mistake that many presenters make is being so nervous that they rush through their presentation, mumble their words, and look stiff and uncomfortable. It can be difficult, but over time you can train yourself to feel more comfortable being the centre of attention.
Many people find that it helps them to seek a quiet space before the presentation and visualise the presentation going smoothly. Take a few deep breaths to give your brain the oxygen it needs and you will trick your body into feeling calmer. During your presentation remember to speak more slowly and take time to pause and breathe between sentences. The pauses will feel like an eternity but they will sound normal to your audience. The slower speaking pace will make your presentation easier to understand and will also calm you down.
These are just a few of the ways that can help you give a more effective presentation and really impress your audience the next time you are in the spotlight. For more great advice on presentations and career success, resources like BPW are there to offer professional women a wealth of information to help take their career forward.