Having great presentation skills is valuable in the business world.
Regardless if you are making a sales pitch or delivering a message to the audience, you have to remember that how you present yourself to your audience is how they will perceive you or your company to be. The goal in any presentation is to educate, encourage and enlighten the audience.
However, not everyone has great presentation skills; some presenters are too soft, unprepared or just that boring that they reflect badly on their business. We have come up with some helpful tips on how to improve your presentation skills and give a flawless presentation:
Before your presentation
1. Plan and organise
The number one tip to improve your presentation skills is to plan and organise your presentation slides. Prepare your slides and definitely do not ‘wing it’. Run through them and also check if it is visually clear and not clustered or not appealing.
2. Prepare a script
As you are preparing your slides, prepare a script just in case you get stage fright and lose your chain of thought. Write out your speech rather than taking chances. If you get nervous about speaking, a script is handy and there to assist you.
What better way to improve your presentation skills than to have a run through. You would want to rehearse your presentation multiple times, best achieved with your slides. This is essential if you want to deliver an exciting presentation. Be comfortable with your slides and do a practice run with a friend or colleague.
4. Time limit
As you are practicing or doing a dry run in front of your friend or colleague, try to time your presentation. You would know how much time you are given for the presentation by the event organiser. Set a countdown timer as this allows you to know how long you took; were you too fast? Were you rushing through your slides?
5. Have a good night rest.
You do not want to appear lethargic or be yawning during your presentation. So have an early night or a quiet relaxing night with no wild parties.
6. Attend other presentations
If your presentation is part of a conference, try to attend some of the earlier talks by other presenters. Not only will you get the enthusiasm from the other presenters, you will also get a chance to feel out the audience and know their mood. You could also take in what other presenters mentioned and play off later in your own presentation. This will improve your presentation skills as you are learning from other presenters.
During your presentation
7. Arrive early
It is always best to allow yourself plenty of time to settle in before your talk. The extra time ensures you would not be late and this gives you plenty of time to get adjusted to your presentation space. Not only that, you may want to check if the organiser received your slides (if you email it to them earlier) or if the format of your PowerPoint slides are readable on their computers.
8. Get comfortable
Another way to improve your presentation skills is to get comfortable with the space that you will be delivering your presentation at. Asked the organisers questions like with there be a stage timer or presenter cue or will you be miked up (if it is a large conference room).
9. Know your crowd
Walk around the conference arena or have a look around at other talks being conducted to understand the type of audience you will be facing. This can improve your presentation skills as you will know how to get your audience engaged.
10. Keep on smiling
No point in crying and definitely no harm in smiling. As smiling increases endorphins, replacing anxiety with calm and making you feel good about your presentation. Putting on a smile does not only make you more likeable, it makes you healthier and it can greatly improve your mood and definitely reduces your stress level.
11. Keep calm and relax
You have done everything you can; prepare the slides, practise your presentation and you are just waiting for the audience to settle down in their seats. Keep calm and try to relax; and break a leg!
12. Drink a glass of water
If you get the chance to, try drinking a glass of water before the start of your presentation. While you are waiting for the audience to settle down, your nervousness may cause your throat to dry up and without you realising it, you start getting that tickling feeling and you start coughing the moment you start speaking. Clear your throat with a glass of water before going on stage.
Another way to improve your presentation skills is to focus your mind. Switch off your mobile phone at least 15 minutes before your presentation to avoid any disruption. This allows you to be focused and being able to concentrate on delivering a great presentation to your audience.
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During your presentation
14. Take a moment
Just before you start speaking, take a moment and look around the room. This allows your audience to settle down (if they have not) and once they see you on stage, they would you that you are about to start. No point in you starting when the crowd is still rowdy.
15. Eye contact
Making eye contact is one of the ways to know if your audience is interested in your presentation or otherwise. Make meaningful eye contact with the audience instead of watching the floor or the horizon.
16. Breathe and pause
When you are nervous, your muscles tighten and you may even catch yourself holding your breath. What you can do is go ahead and take those deep breaths to get oxygen to your brain and relax your body. When you are nervous, your speech tends to speed up and you would end up talking too fast, which causes you to run out of breath, get more nervous or even panic!
17. Audience engagement
People love to make their opinions heard, so be prepared for a couple of interruptions between slides. It is your choice if you would want to take a question or politely inform them that there will be a Q&A session after the presentation. Taking a question between slides could actually help the audience by taking a tiny break from the screen or even catch up with their own notes.
Another way to improve your presentation skills is by including a couple of brainteasers on your slides (that are related to your topic of discussion). Interact with your audience so that they are aware that the presentation is not going to be all on the presenter, but also involving the audience themselves. Welcoming audience participation can boost engagement and make audience feel like a part of a discussion.
18. Be entertaining
Even if your presentation is packed with useful information, try to include some light-hearted jokes, as they are a great way to help the audience feel more comfortable. Do not be afraid to add a little humour into your presentation.
After your presentation
It is typical for you to feel daunted during the ‘Question & Answer’ section of your presentation. You could possibly be worried that your audience would ask you questions that you do not have the answer for. It is acceptable to admit that you do not have all the answers to the questions that are being asked.
Very few presenters are prepared to publicly admit that they do not know everything because they feel it damages their reputation. Instead of replying that you are not sure, ask the audience member to come up to you after the presentation and discuss about it. This shows that you are actually interested in helping them and this improves your presentation skills.
20. Meet and greet
Do not run off the moment you end your presentation. Stay a while longer and mingle with the audience, as they may have questions which there was not enough time for. This is also a good time to ask the audience what they thought of the presentation. By doing so, you can get feedback and learn from it for your next presentation.
21. Thank You Note
The perfect way to improve your presentation skills is to write a ‘Thank You’ note to your audience. Well perhaps not all of them if there are hundreds, but those who asked questions or those who come up to you after the presentation. If you are a Prezentt user, you can collect their contact details within your Prezentt account.
There are many different ways that could help you improve your presentation skills and delivering your ideas and messages better. You will definitely adopt other skills along the way besides the tips we have listed earlier. Regardless what the methods may be, try to make a routine out of it every time you need to give a presentation as it not only boosts your confidence and improves your presentation skills, but it also increases your audience and followers.