Want to become better at giving presentations? Whether you’re hosting a college lecture or a business conference, here are 10 tricks that will help you to ace that next presentation.
Learn to turn nervous energy into enthusiasm
Pretty much everyone gets nervous when speaking in public. There are lots of different ways to deal with nerves such as pretending you’re speaking to a good friend or pretending everyone is naked – these methods may work for some people, but not for others. Rather than trying to contain the pre-presentation jitters, try instead to turn your nervous energy into enthusiasm. This makes it much easier to disguise shaking or heavy breathing or other unwanted nervous habits, by turning them into a sign of excitement. Remember to speak slowly – as lot of people speak too fast when nervous, and this could throw your entire presentation timings out the window.
Use the 10 20 30 rule
Nobody likes a presentation to trail on too long. Following the 10 20 30 rule will help to keep your presentation succinct and engaging so that your audience aren’t clock-watching or falling asleep. This rule states that you should use no more than 10 slides, speak for no longer than 20 minutes and use a font size no less than 30. This forces you to keep content concise.
Start with a strong opening
The opening of your presentation is important – hook people in early and they’re more likely to stay hooked longer. You could open with a question, a powerful quote or even a joke. You could also give an introduction to yourself in order to give proof of your credibility. Make it relevant to the core message of your presentation, but don’t feel that you have to give away everything first.
Tell a story
Telling a story could also help to make your presentation more engaging. They can help to give presentations a direction and they can also provide an emotional angle. Think about the purpose of your presentation – if you’re selling a product, tell the story of how that product came to be or alternatively tell the story of a consumer that did/didn’t have your product and the impact that had. If your purpose is to educate people, you may still be able to provide stories behind your stories or stories related to the research of others.
Support your claims with facts and figures
Facts and figures will show that you’ve done your research. Make sure to include these throughout your presentation and always cite references. Don’t worry too much about piling every detail of information into your presentation – whilst it’s good to have a thorough knowledge of your topic, some information may be too specific to warrant attention in your presentation. You may still however get asked questions at the end of the presentation, so its useful keeping notes on these specific facts and figures somewhere.
Make it visually captivating
A good presentation should also be visually impressive. There’s lots of beautiful presentation software out there to try that could help to spice up your slides with intriguing graphs and images. You may also be able to download templates to give your presentation flair. Steer clear of stock photos that add nothing to your presentation. You should also avoid walls of text – keep text to a minimum if you can.
Keep your eyes on the audience
You should never spend a presentation reading off the slides or reading off notes. This prevents you from looking at your audience and connecting with them. Eye contact helps to build trust and can make audience members feel more involved.
Use audience participation appropriately
Encouraging audience participation is one certain way to make your audience feel more engaged, however you should be careful of how you use it. Basic ways of participating with the audience involve asking questions or getting people to demo your product.
Allow time for questions at the end
You should try to leave time at the end for people to ask questions. This could be particularly important at a sales conference or a seminar, in which people may be relying on you for expert advice. Make sure that you’re not cheating people out of this opportunity to ask questions.
Practice, practice, practice
This is the golden rule of giving a winning presentation. After planning your presentation, take the time to rehearse it. You don’t have to learn it word by word, but it’s good to have a strong idea of what you’re going to discuss next and when to change each slide. You may also want to perform in front of a mirror to get an idea of your stage presence. You may even be able to get a friend or colleague to watch you and give tips on how to compose yourself better.