At some point in your career, chances are you’ll have to deliver some kind of presentation. Some of us thrive under that type of spotlight, and some of us struggle. In either case, there are always ways to improve.
In this issue of the Pulse, we’re looking at seven tips that will help you excel at presenting.
Proofread everything ahead of time.
When you’re done working on your presentation, the last thing you want to do is proofread, scanning every last word for mistakes. But it’s an important task, and one that might save you from stumbling or having to correct something as the presentation is happening.
Get yourself in the right headspace.
Easier said than done if you’re nervous of public speaking, but being in the right headspace to present is important. Focusing on your nerves and doubting your abilities won’t help you deliver a good presentation. Instead, try:
- Reminding yourself that your presentation message is important.
- Visualize yourself delivering a great presentation, rather than imagining the worst-case scenarios.
- Don’t apologize for being nervous; embrace it and use it as a kind of energy to put into your presentation.
Ensure AV and lighting isn’t an issue.
Some people need to rehearse more than others – so do what feels right for you. However, a test run to ensure the audio-visual equipment and lighting is working smoothly is critical.
Be prepared to be cut short.
There’s nothing worse than feeling rushed or like you’re running out of time. Oftentimes, if we know we have a ten-minute window, we will plan for those entire ten minutes. But sometimes things run late, or your time gets cut in half, and you’re left scrambling to fit your entire presentation into a smaller chunk of time than you prepared for.
You can be ready for this by:
- Having a full version of the presentation you planned, and a version that’s 50% of what you’ve planned.
- Know ahead of time what content can be cut, and what is integral to your overall message.
- Don’t get too attached to unnecessary details.
Don’t forget a hook.
If you’re worried about audience engagement, a strong hook at the beginning of your presentation is a solid strategy. This could be anything from a relevant joke to an icebreaker activity.
Prioritize being interactive.
Humans do better when we’re being spoken to rather than spoken at. Avoid sounding like a lecturer by including interactivity, such as:
- Actively listening to audience questions.
- Encouraging audience members to engage with each other and the material.
- Asking for opinions and questions.
- Including a group activity, when relevant.
Don’t forget a strong finish.
Just like a good hook will get your audience engaged, a strong ending will leave them reflecting on your presentation long after it’s over.
Whether you love or hate giving presentations, following these seven tips will make any talk you give go a lot smoother.