Preparing For A Presentation: 5 Top Tips
Many people have a deeply ingrained fear of public speaking (in fact, there is even a word for it – glossophobia).
Even many people who consider themselves generally extroverted can struggle to face public speaking, and even team meetings at work can be a challenge for some.
While there’s no ‘magic bullet’ to help you suddenly become a confident speaker, it’s a common issue and one that many people have worked to solve. In this post, we’re going to look at some simple tips and tricks to help you give a great impression and ace your presentation.
Work out what you want to say
It’s always a good idea to get your presentation planned out before you start. Some people like to prepare a full script and work through it word-by-word when speaking, while others may prefer a system of notes or index cards to keep an extemporaneous presentation on topic for a few key talking points.
You may find on the day that you don’t even need your notes and can remember the plan well enough to essentially freestyle the presentation, but having the notes there can be a great psychological support as a sort of safety net you can fall back onto if you forget what you were supposed to say next.
Don’t just repeat the messaging on the slides
Here’s a formula for giving an incredibly boring presentation: put up a bunch of Powerpoint slides and just read out what they say.
After all, if you do this, there’s no real reason for the slides to be there. Really, your slides should provide additional information and imagery for what you’re talking about.
It’s a good idea to keep your slides simple and to not overcomplicate the design with too much text and data. Use your slides to provide a broad overview of the talking points and expand on your ideas with the spoken part of the presentation.
Slides are also a great way of backing up your points by showing visual examples of the things you’re talking about – such as graphs, tables of data, or photographic proof of something claimed.
Prepare for likely questions
Many presentations end with a round of questions for the speaker, so it may be a good idea to think in advance about some things people might be likely to ask you about.
This might mean having additional data on hand if people ask you to qualify something you’ve said – or you could even prepare some extra visuals that you may or may not need in response to queries.
This will help you to give thoughtful answers to those questions if they should happen to come up on the day – and you may even think of some questions important enough that you can preemptively answer them in the main presentation itself.
Simply put, if you as the speaker don’t seem to find what you’re talking about interesting, nobody else is going to.
Enthusiasm and passion are contagious, and will make the audience take note of your words. Nothing will bore listeners like a flat, monotone voice slowly reciting a script.
Even if the subject on which you have to speak is relatively dull (and let’s face it, that sums up rather a lot of business presentations), you can still try to make it engaging. Remember, there’s probably a reason why people are supposed to care about the topic – make sure that comes across in your delivery.
Weave a story
Nothing captivates an audience like a well-told story. We can’t help it: we want to know what happens.
If your presentation seems like it might be a bit dry and uninspired, try spicing it up with a story or two. Stories are very human and they allow us to connect to ideas in a more emotional way – even if the tale is pure fiction.
When preparing your presentation, you might turn your mind to whether you may be able to tell a good story to reinforce one of your talking points. After all, an effective story can be extremely memorable and make a big impact on your listeners. Just remember to keep it short and to the point, and not to ramble on (the audience is there to hear a presentation, not the audiobook of War and Peace!).
In conclusion, being able to give a great business presentation is a very important skill. A good degree of comfort with public speaking and some well-learned techniques can make all the difference when it comes to presenting your ideas and making a good impression.
By working out ahead of time what you want to say, using your slides well, anticipating questions and speaking passionately, you can keep your audience engaged throughout your talk and ensure a successful presentation overall.