Presentations are an important part of business and giving a good presentation is an important skill to develop. If you’d like to improve your presentation game, try these six tips.
Watch presentations in your office (or TED talks on YouTube) and make notes. What do you like about a presenter when you like them? And what do you dislike when they aren’t so great? Use this information to make your presentations better.
Structure Your Presentation
Creating a presentation is a bit like writing a college essay. You have your thesis, which is your main point. Then you have your introduction, body, and conclusion. In your introduction, you make your main point and tell your audience what your presentation will consist of. In your main body, you make points that support your main point. Then your conclusion restates your main point.
Keep it simple and stick to your main point. If you’re using PowerPoint in your presentation, keep that simple too. Overly complex slides can be frustrating to your audience or leave them reading when they should be listening.
Practice Out Loud
Lots of people practice presentations by reading them over silently to themselves. But it’s better to actually say the words out loud. What reads okay on a page might not sound so good aloud. Also, you might find that you need to rewrite some sections, as they’re awkward or hard to get through. Finally, practicing aloud will give you confidence, and confidence is key.
Feedback is good, but the best way to know how you’re doing is to record yourself. Use a laptop or your smartphone. By watching and listening to your presentation, you can get a good sense of your cadence, volume, elocution, stance, and any verbal or physical tics you may have. This can be an awkward exercise, but it’s the best way to self-improvement.
We use words like “um”, “huh”, “like”, “erm”, and “so” when we’re searching for the next thing we’re going to say. These are called filled pauses, and while there is a whole interesting science behind them, the point we’d like to make is that they’re distracting to your audience and they can sound a tad unprofessional. So instead of saying “um”, pause. It’s a tough habit to get into, but you’ll notice that when you pause, people don’t stop paying attention. If anything, they pay more attention.
Canadians, take note. Unless you’ve done something truly egregious (like shown up late or spilled coffee on the CEO), don’t apologize. Saying something like, “I’m sorry I’m nervous” or “Sorry this is a little complicated” will make you sound more nervous or the topic more complicated than if you hadn’t apologized in the first place. Besides, audiences are more forgiving than you’d think.