Whether you love or hate public speaking, I think that we can all agree on the fact that it’s a very useful skill to have in life. Being strong in presenting and speaking not only enhances your people skills, but also shows leadership and confidence. That, and the fact that you can correctly prepare and perform a great presentation. I think that if you become more prepared for your oral presentations, it’ll help you out later in life.
I used to be very scared to present anything, especially in front of a big audience… but I’ve conquered my fear by following some tips and tricks that I will be sharing with you. So without further ado, here are just some of the things I do to prepare myself better for a presentation.
A strong setup is always required if you want to show your audience that you actually know what you are talking about. Here are some of the steps I take for every single presentation, big or small.
1. Write down everything
Preparing for the presentation, you should write down any ideas or anything you might want to include in the presentation to make it better. Always write your ideas down because you don’t want to have a great idea and forget all about it once you’re about to present. Be sure to constantly review these notes so you can keep them in your head, and
2. Not too much text
If you are creating a visual for the presentation, (like a powerpoint), make sure that there is not too much text and it’s not too eye catching. You don’t want the audience to be mesmerized by your presentation and not pay any attention to what you’re saying. I always make my presentations look simple with only important information displayed as content – NEVER have your script as the text for your presentation.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice.
For every single presentation, practice it in a way that you do not use a script. Try and be flexible and change some parts up every time you present (if you can). This way, if you brain fart during your actual presentation, you will be able to quickly recover instead of just stand there looking foolish. I normally practice 5 + times for a presentation with no script or pauses in between. You can take it a step further and record your practice presentations and/or do it in front of some friends and get their opinion on it – ask them what would make your presentation better!
Do not memorize anything other than the general idea of each point you want to talk about. Memorizing from a script won’t teach you much, and you won’t be able to take away as much knowledge from your experience. This doesn’t mean that you should put everything you want to say in text on your presentation powerpoint or other enhancements.
5. Learn as much as you can about your topic
For whatever you’re presenting, you should make sure that you know a lot about it. For example, if I was doing a presentation on Robert Noyce, one of the founders of Intel, I would research everything from his hobbies to his achievements and career. In doing so, I would be able to answer questions and naturally, be more confident during the actual presentation.
During the Presentation
Always remember to introduce yourself. It’s professional and you can kind of get a “feel” of the audience and atmosphere in the very beginning. A quick “Hi, my name is _____, and I will be talking about _____ today.” Make yourself sound comfortable because the audience can tell if you’re uncomfortable, which is usually a sign that you are not prepared.
Throughout the presentation, you should obviously be making eye contact with your audience. You also should not be moving your body too much – unless you are casually pacing around the room (which is great). Do not sway back and forth – standing still actually makes you look much more professional and confident. Use hand gestures in order to express and explain more efficiently. An example would be when I say “So, as you can see”, I would be moving my hands in a way that I’m addressing my audience.
It’s likely that your audience did not pay attention to you for the whole presentation, so having a good conclusion is essential for helping your audience remember the key points of your presentation. You could say “In summary…” or “To wrap that all up…” and state the most important information for your audience.
After that, be sure to take questions whenever you are allowed to. This enhances the audience-presenter engagement levels and also shows that you actually understand what you’re talking about. I usually have a trivia game at the end with prizes, just so I would get more interest from the people listening.
As mentioned earlier, you need to start off strong. Without a good opening, you will quickly lose your audience’s attention. Don’t speak in monotone – speak with emotion, so your audience understands that you are actually human. They’ll enjoy your presentation more if you make some jokes or remarks (if you are allowed to) and overall, just keep the atmosphere light and friendly.
Engage your audience
No matter what you’re presentation is on, you should always find a way on being able to engage the audience. Whether it’s asking them questions, trivia, or playing a game, you’re audience will be much more happy to actually have you interact with them, rather than stand there and ramble by yourself for however long. This will also boost your confidence and make you look much more comfortable with who you’re presenting to.
Don’t ACT nervous
I’ll let you in on a little secret: pretty much everyone is nervous for their presentation, no matter who they are. The key is whether you can hide it or not. Jittery movements will show the audience that you are not prepared, along with stuttering when talking. Take a deep breath before your presentation, and keep yourself calm. I always tell myself that I’m already so lucky to be part of this world, so even if the presentation was the worst presentation ever, it’ll be over in a couple of minutes and honestly, how much of an impact does 1 bad presentation have on my life?
In conclusion, taking certain steps to prepare and present well for a presentation will definitely provide you with a very useful skill for the rest of your lives. Practice makes perfect, so don’t be down if you’re presenting and speaking skills do not improve immediately. I hope you all could take something away from this!
How did you like this blog post? Do you have any experiences of your own, or anything else that worked? Which one of these do you think is best? Please let us know in the comments!