Refresh your presentation skills with these simple but critical tips and tricks
- Keep your visuals clear and simple – It is important to use clear, quality images in your presentation as highly pixelated images look terrible and are ineffective. Try to keep images uncluttered with minimum text to make it easier for your audience to interpret their meaning.
- Look at your audience, talk to your audience and take notice – Don’t single out one person in particular, but make eye contact with numerous people in your audience and engage them as you are speaking. Take note of their posture and body language and perhaps mix things up a bit if the audience seems to be getting lethargic. Talk to them, not at them. People really don’t like being talked at, so interact with them, ask questions and let them ask you questions. Talk to your audience as if you know them and respect them (without sounding too familiar) to create a more personal delivery.
- Make people laugh – This is obviously much easier said than done – it can be a tough job to make an audience laugh but if you can do it, it will be well received. A laugh certainly breaks up the monotony of a presentation and people become more receptive to what you are saying.
- Don’t over prepare but be prepared – Don’t rehearse your presentation over and over until you sound structured and robotic, like you have memorised every word. But make sure that you know your stuff and test videos, audio and images. Think about what the audience may ask you at question time and what questions you can ask them to get them thinking and interacting. It is also worth running through a practice of your presentation, keeping an eye on the time so that you can alter it to fit your time frame.
- Show movement – Use gestures and move around your space as you present to show the audience some energy and emphasise what you are saying. However, try to be conscious of your movement and the audience’s reaction so as not to distract them too much or make them uncomfortable.
- Speak clearly and at a conversational speed – Consider that you may have people of different hearing levels and different languages all sitting in different areas of the room – try to speak clearly and concisely avoiding too much slang or abbreviations. Also consider the speed you are speaking at, try not to talk too slow, as you will lose the audience’s interest, but don’t talk too fast, as the audience will find it hard to follow. And make sure you speak up!
- Be aware of your habits – Many people have habits they are completely unaware of when public speaking, i.e. repeatedly saying “um” or “ah” or “like” etc, repeatedly coughing or clearing their throat, cracking knuckles, tapping fingers and there are many more examples. If you are not sure what your habits are, perhaps ask a colleague to listen to you practice present and give you some feedback.
And lastly – believe in what you are saying, be confident and passionate, but stay relaxed and calm. Enjoy yourself!