It can be incredibly intimidating to speak to a crowd, especially when it involves your job and, worse still, if your bosses are in the room, too. But giving a presentation doesn’t have to be all hard work and nerves. Here are eight tips to help you breeze through the next one. Don’t worry, none of them involve imagining anyone in the audience naked!
This might sound like a no-brainer, but you may feel ready when you actually aren’t. Preparation involves more than just getting your slides and cue cards ready; you need to know what you’re actually talking about. It’s good to rehearse your presentation, but don’t overdo it as that will most likely come across as just that – rehearsed spiel.
Get the Complete Picture
It’s important to know who your audience is; presenting to your co-workers will be different than pitching the same concept to your clients, for example. It’s good to get a gauge of who your audience is before you step in the room, so that you can adjust aspects such as the comprehensiveness of content and the level of jargon accordingly. It’s also useful to know what the seating arrangement will look like – will there be a podium, for example – so you know how much leeway you have when it comes to movement. It’ll be easier to engage your audience if you’re not faced with any unexpected surprises on D-day.
Hook Them In From the Start
Your intro is very important and will make or break your presentation. It’s crucial that you reel your audience in right from the start and this will not happen if you begin just by introducing yourself and stating the topic you’re going to be discussing. Start with a bang, perhaps by posing a provocative question or citing a curious statistic or a fascinating quote. And always delve into your main point right after – beating around the bush will only bore your audience.
Don’t Just Explain
So you spent a lot of time gathering all the information needed to get your point or pitch across. That doesn’t mean that you should just stand there and read it all out, as there’s more to that when it comes to a good presentation. Let your personality and point of view shine through and you’ll score more points.
Don’t Act the Clown
Humour is a useful tool in presentations but don’t overuse it. This is a work presentation after all, and not your chance to realise your dream of being a stand-up comic (even if you are genuinely funny). Pepper your presentation with a couple of jokes or funny anecdotes but keep it professional.
Keep It Fresh
It’s highly likely that the people that you are presenting to already have some sort of knowledge of the topic that you’re discussing, so don’t tell them things that they already know. At the same time, don’t make things more complicated than they need to be. Keep it simple and hit them with the most intriguing and thought-provoking points. And, most of all, don’t waffle. Dragging things out will only make them tune out and start daydreaming.
Connect With Your Audience
Whether you’re speaking to a group of 10 or 100 people, always talk to your audience and not at them. Turn it into a conversation; some form of interaction will be more engaging. Ask them questions or open the floor to questions so that they’ll feel involved. And be energetic because if you’re low-key or muted, chances are that everyone else will take your cue and be more reticent in their response.
Your audience will be able to see right through you if you’re nervous or, worse still, clueless about what you’re saying. Your body language will give it away if you’re uncomfortable or not confident. The best way to put on a bold front – even if you don’t feel that way – is to stand up straight and enunciate clearly. Take your time and pace yourself; there’s nothing worse than stuttering or rushing through your sentences. And you won’t be penalised for smiling so be cheerful, please. All the best!