The thought of giving a presentation sends chills down my spine! I guess, you all feel the same, too!
Even if we have done it a few times, speaking in front of an audience always seems terrifying. And the surprising part is, even the best speakers feel nervous when they have to give a presentation.
But what makes them successful? Is it something that they are born with or did they learn it? In this post, I will share with you the 11 astonishing ways to improve your presentation skills, so you speak as effectively as the successful ones.
(1) Create an Outline
- Once you have chosen a topic or you have been given a topic, start by creating an outline. The outline will contain the subtopics that you will talk about and the structure of the presentation.
- If you are unaware of the topic, research about it on the Internet or read books. Once you have researched about the topic, you will have a lot of matter with you. You may still be confused about what to cover, hence, take help from someone to streamline the process for you.
- Think and select the relevant matter for the presentation and create an outline accordingly. The outline could contain bullet points of the subtopics and other points that you will cover. If possible, keep that list with you during the presentation, as it is likely that you might forget the flow while presenting.
(2) Don’t Keep It Wordy
- The common mistake a lot of people make is filling their presentation with a lot of text. If your presentation consists of only text, the audience will lose interest and it will be less effective.
- Your slides will look overwhelming and cluttered. Hence, use minimal text. A good practice is to use bullet points and while presenting and explain what that bullet point conveys.
- The idea here is to make your slides look clean and organized rather than messy and overwhelmed with text.
(3) Use Visuals
- Do you know what makes a presentation effective and engaging? The use of visuals! Include images, videos, graphs, etc. The audience connects well with visuals and you will try to convey a lot of information by those visuals.
- For example, if you are presenting a sales report, place graphs that clearly indicate the gender-wise split of conversions. Similarly, Use images to express an idea without using words.
- In presentations, visuals speak louder than words, hence, place really engaging visuals to capture the attention of the audience. It is crucial that you use clear and high definition images and videos. Unclear visuals are not ideal for use in presentations.
- You will seem nervous if you speak fast or mumble while presenting. If you have a habit of speaking fast, try to slow down your pace as your audience might not understand you and will lose interest.
- At the same time, don’t speak too slowly that they will lose interest or complete your sentences. Speaking too slow or too fast affects your pronunciation of words. Try to speak at a pace that will keep the audience engaged and you will convey your message effectively.
- According to experts, the ideal pace of speaking is 140-160 words per minute. Practice speaking at this pace to be an ideal presenter. In addition to it, take pauses between sentences. It will give you time to breathe and continue smoothly. Pausing at right places while grab the audience’s attention.
(5) Positive Tone
- An important skill as a presenter is to speak in a positive and friendly tone. A warm greeting to your audience will make them comfortable and they connect with you immediately. We often overlook this powerful strategy.
- Starting with a pleasant greeting sets the tone of the entire presentation. Your choice of words may be easily misinterpreted by the audience and could make a negative impression. Hence, keep the tone of your voice friendly, use pleasant greetings and words and your audience will connect emotionally with you.
- If you feel some words or sentences could be misunderstood, please change them to something positive and one which makes the people feel comfortable. You must not appear to be a repulsive presenter.
- Before presenting, take time and practice what you have created. I understand that it can be difficult if you have packed schedules. Whenever you can, please spare time and practice as you will be acquainted with the flow and structure of the presentation.
- Do you want to know how I practice? I prepare a script!
- It’s difficult for me to speak spontaneously, hence, I create a script as per the matter and practice it at least thrice.
- This is a helpful way of preparing for the presentation as you have specific content of what you want to say. No matter how busy you are please spare at least 30 minutes of your time to practice.
- This will help you to keep track of the time you take to present your ideas and you can change sentence that could be easily misinterpreted by the audience. Also, try to practice before the presentation as you the points will be fresh in your memory.
- The greatest presenter, Mr. Steve Jobs, used to practice for hours before a presentation, so, why can’t you? Practicing made him an effective presenter and so will you.
(7) Don’t Read the Slides
- A lot of people make the mistake of reading content from the slides. If you read the slides, you will lose your audience. You should make your points, not your slides.
- Also, if you turn back to read, your audience will not be able to see your face and you will look less knowledgeable. Make a habit of practicing what you want to say, rather than read from the slides.
- The audience wants to see you express your ideas, your expressions and body language and the better you present, the more confident they will be of your expertise.
(8) It’s Normal to Be Nervous
- Even the best have felt it! The top 25 best public speakers have admitted that the most common fear in public speaking is nervousness. Presenting becomes a daunting task if you have stage fear.
- When you feel nervous, take 5-10 deep breaths and calm yourself down. Believe in yourself, be positive about the effort you have put in and visualize how effective you were while practicing.
- If you think your presentation will be a disaster, chances are it will be! If you think it will be successful and your audience will be thrilled, it will be! Positivity will exhibit in the way you speak and engage with the audience. Think positively and you will be a fantastic presenter!
- How will you feel if someone is staring into your eyes like a zombie? Terrified, right? Smile while looking at your audience.
- Smiling reduces tension, anxiety and nervousness and calms your mind and makes you feel good about yourself and your presentation. Smiling exhibits confidence and enthusiasm towards the crowd. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and look like a clown.
- Smiling at the audience will make you look friendly and as they say, “smiles are contagious!” your audience will engage with you effectively.
(10) Don’t Cover Too Much Material
- Your presentation should be precise. You should only talk about relevant topics and avoid unnecessary points.
- Ideally, your presentation should be of 15-30 minutes. Make sure you cover the important points so your audience learns something from you. Too much information will leave them overwhelmed with information which will be difficult for them to digest.
- If you feel that a point is not required or is marginally relevant, please remove it from your presentation. If you have 30 minutes, try to finish in 25 minutes and if you have 60, finish in 50-55 minutes. Always respect your audience’s time and finish early. This give you extra time to answer your audience’s questions.
(11) Watch or Attend Other Presentations
- If you want to become a better presenter, try and attend as many presentations as possible. If you cannot attend, you will find plenty on YouTube.
- Observe their body language, hand gestures, facial expressions and other non-verbal communication signals. Incorporating these in your presentation will make you a better and effective presenter.
- If you think you have a weak vocabulary, you can improve it by taking simple steps. You should aim to sound confident and express your ideas in simple words rather than sounding like a robot. Successful presenter use simple words to convey their ideas. The audience should understand you, hence, keep it as simple as possible.
Dear readers, I have linked a few helpful resources for improving your presentation skills. Please refer to them to learn more:
- 20 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills – The WordStream Blog
- 16 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Presentation Skills From 16 Powerful TED Talks – Inc.
- 15 Simple Tricks To Improve Your Presentation Skills – EmergingEdTech
In addition to the useful links, please watch this helpful video:
- The thought of giving a presentation sends chills down my spine! I guess, you all feel the same, too!
- In this post, I have shared with you the 11 astonishing ways to improve your presentation skills, so you speak as effectively as the successful ones.
- Create an Outline: Create the structure of the presentation and include bullet points of the topics and subtopics that you will cover.
- Don’t Keep It Wordy: Don’t overwhelm the slides with text. Keep them organized and clean by using bullet points instead.
- Use Visuals: Audience will engage better if you use clear images and videos along with self-explanatory graphs and charts.
- Pace: Speak at a pace of 140-160 words per minute to sound confident and clear. If you rush or speak too slowly, you will lose your audience.
- Positive Tone: Set the tone of the presentation with a pleasant greeting and use friendly expressions to convey your message.
- Practice: Practice the entire presentation rather than speaking on the spot. Prepare a script and practice it.
- Don’t Read the Slides: Your audience looks forward to hear from you and see how you express ideas. Reading will make them doubt your knowledge and expertise.
- It’s Normal to Be Nervous: The best speakers feel nervous while speaking. Take 5-10 deep breaths to calm yourself down.
- Smile: Smile to better engage with your audience. Just don’t overdo it. Smiling will make you look confident.
- Don’t Cover Too Much Material: Keep your presentation to the point. Cover only the relevant topics and remove the others.
- Watch or Attend Other Presentations: Attend presentations or watch on YouTube and observe the presenter’s body language, gestures, facial expressions and other non-verbal communication signals.