Delivering a presentation can be a daunting experience for most of us. But it is something we have all had to do, whether it be in a class room, lecture hall or boardroom. I have done more than I could count, through my undergrad, masters and now in my job, so it’s become second nature for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous from time to time. It comes along with practise and each presentation is different. Different context. Different style. Different audience. Follow my easy steps in order to help your plan your presentation, manage your stress levels and help you steer to a smooth finish. Let’s get it started!
The best piece of advice I got to start off a presentation is,
“Tell them what you are gonna tell them, then tell them and then tell them what you just told them”.
Confusing phrase but easy concept. It defines how you should start with a brief overview of what the presentation will entail, then deliver the presentation before concluding with the important points.
I always use this as the template for any presentation I do whether it’s a sales pitch or a university assignment.
Keep it simple
If your using visual aids, make sure it does not include reels and reels of writing as this can be very overwhelming to your audience. Not to mention they will forget everything by the time you move on to the next slide. Just bullet point the important points and then elaborate on them.
Practise. Practise. Practise.
A presentation is a performance and like any performance you need to rehearse and go over your material. Not only will this calm your nerves but you will become more confident and this will resonate in your delivery. However, be wary to simply read off a script as this will not only disconnect you from your audience, it can also be off-putting if you miss something and lose your way. Compromise, by having notes with bullet points which acts as a guide to navigate you through the presentation and make it seem more natural.
Posture and presence
It may seem like a cliché but trust me it works. Keep your posture open. Shoulder back, back straight and this will help you with your confidence and help project your voice.
Take deep breathes and this will help with your anxiety levels, because we are all human and it’s natural to feel nervous.
During your presentation, use pauses after each section to allow comfortable breathing patterns and help you with the flow of the presentation.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality and add a bit of humour to grab the audience’s attention. Use your voice by changing your volume, pace and pitch to emphasis on certain points. This will add energy and enthusiasm to the presentation and inspire your audience to pay attention to what you are saying.
Having said this speak in a clear and concise manner. I have a tendency to press the fast forward button and talk very fast. But I have learnt with every presentation to slow down and although it was awkward at first, it became second nature with every go.
This may not be an exhaustive list, but it’s a start to get you delivering your killer presentation. But don’t stop there continually explore your own personal style.