You never know when tips to improve your presentation skills will prove useful. The requirement to stand in front of an audience could arise at any time and unless you’re a natural presenter, it can be daunting. Even the most accomplished professionals can go to pieces when called upon to make a presentation. If you want to avoid sweaty palms, butterflies in the stomach, knocking knees and a dry mouth, here are some ways to improve your presentation skills.
1. Tone of Voice
You will find it easier to use your normal voice, but make sure it is loud enough. You will not improve your presentation skills by adopting a phony voice. This gives you an extra dimension to your presentation to focus on and your focus should be on the message and delivery, not remembering what voice you’re adopting.
2. Be as Natural as Possible
Like putting on a voice, you are giving yourself another challenge by trying to put on a performance. Even if you are comfortable in front of an audience, there is a difference between acting unnaturally and showmanship, and it’s important to know what the differences are. The best advice to improve your presentation skills when it doesn’t feel comfortable is to be yourself and as natural as you can.
3. Know and Control Your Audience
If your audience starts murmuring and whispering, either you have stimulated them so much they need to discuss your message immediately, or you have lost them. In the case of the former, this can work to your advantage, as long as you aren’t simply inflaming them by being controversial. If you have lost their attention, you will not regain control by merely raising your voice. If they are disinterested, it is hard to get them back on track, so complete the delivery as fast as you can without sounding like a runaway train and cut out anything that can really be left without being said. It is also essential to know your audience and their expectations. You can make certain assumptions about your group according to age, profession, etc. For example, you won’t need to tell an audience of real estate agents what a real estate agent does.
4. Have a Clear and Concise Message
The aim of a presentation is to disseminate a message to the audience. One of the keys to a successful presentation is ensuring your message is clear and concise. How you deliver the message must be clear and powerful. Resorting to tricks to deliver the message is not going to work. Boring your audience will also result in the message being delivered ineffectively, so don’t go on too long. And, constant repetition of the message is also not necessary. Delivered effectively, the message will be heard. Do not labor points.
5. Be Confident in Your Topic
You can only deliver a confident presentation with a strong message if you are intimately conversant with your topic. You are doing a disservice to yourself and your audience if you try and present without knowledge and understanding. The audience is looking to you to be an expert, so you have to feel secure in your own ability. Knowing your subject will also help you with answering questions at the end, so don’t think you can get away with just presenting what is written down.
6. Have a Structure
One of the time-honored ways to improve your presentation skills is to have a good structure. One such structure is to have the classic story arc – a beginning, a middle and an end, even if your presentation is not a narrative and is supposed to be just a delivery of facts. People don’t want to experience a presentation that is like the delivery of the football results. People love stories, so if they know you are telling one, they’ll prick up their ears to hear through to the end.
7. Key Take Aways
One of the corporate buzz words of the moment is key take aways. Even if you don’t like “management speak,” this one is definitely one to work with. Your audience should be informed at the beginning of your presentation what your message is, what use it is to them and what they will leave with – i.e. the key take aways.
8. Be Visual
If you aren’t a natural entertainer, or your subject is, at best, described as dry, you need to consider your visual effects. This isn’t just about having a slideshow with pretty and eye-catching pictures, although this will most certainly help. It is also about personal presentation. You shouldn’t be surprised that improving your presentation skills includes looking at yourself. Be well groomed and also think about your outfit. Don’t wear anything that will distract your audience. If you’re wearing highly colored patterns, a funny tie, or garish socks, even odd shoes, they will focus on those rather than your message. Your background is also important. If it is uninspiring, make it dark and have a spotlight, so the audience is forced to focus on you.
9. Rehearse It
You have to be a very successful and well practiced presenter to be able to deliver a presentation unrehearsed. Like everything in life, you will improve your presentation skills with practice. When rehearing, you are making sure you know your topic and also honing your delivery skills.
If you are expected to deliver presentations on a regular basis and are terrified by the prospect, there are coaches, courses and websites that will help you, if not conquer it, at least make it easier to deal with. Tips to improve your presentation skills are an important feature in your arsenal for success. Do you have any tips to share?