From class projects to business pitches, presentations can be tough to prepare for, and the pure thought of presenting to an audience may even stress you out. It’s important to remember, however, that with a few simple steps, anyone can deliver a solid and effective presentation.
A Few Notes
Think of a presentation as a performance. Before even creating your presentation, you want to make sure that you are captivating your audience’s attention rather than giving them a lecture. You can achieve this through your audience by:
- Inspiring Ideas
- Stimulating Imagination
- Developing their Understanding
Practice makes perfect. Without question, the first thing you must nail down to deliver a solid presentation is making sure that you’ve practiced more than a number of times. It’s essential that you are familiar with your material and are used to the words and phrases you’ll be using in your presentation. A lot of individuals that we’ve worked with find it extremely useful to create an outline of the points they want to cover, or even a fully-fledged script to help them find the words and best way to express their ideas. When you first begin practicing, having your notes/script in your hand can really help, but you also want to make sure that you’ve practiced delivering your presentation without these aids as well. We definitely recommend practicing your presentation while standing up in a room or even in front of a mirror and getting used to the sound of your voice being projected. Also, do whatever it takes to not look at your slides. After a few sessions of practice, try delivering your presentation to someone else to see if they have any feedback. In no time, you’ll notice that you will be able to clearly communicate your presentation without stutters, “um’s,” or blank thoughts.
In addition to the way you communicate your presentation, you also want to make sure that you are aware of the body language you are giving off. Your audience will be heavily influenced by the little details, such as your posture and presence. You may want to determine whether you should stand upright with perfect posture or move more loosely, depending on whether your presentation is formal or informal.
Connect with Your Audience
There are a number of things that you can do as a presenter to keep your audience engaged. One really easy way to accomplish this is by simply making eye contact. Establishing eye contact is a part of our everyday conversation, and by using it in your presentation, your audience will feel more involved and your information will be delivered on a more personal level. Try your best to regularly shift your eyes and make eye contact with as many individuals around the room as possible. If it helps, you can also try looking at their foreheads instead of directly at their eyes, as most of the time, they will still perceive it as eye contact.
Another way to keep your audience connected is through hand gestures. Keeping your hands to your side or in your pockets will only make you look awkward. The best type of hand gestures are ones that move away from your body and out to the audience, which help remove the barrier between the person listening and the person presenting. Using hand gestures to greet the audience or emphasizing main points truly captivates their attention. At the same time, you want to make sure that you aren’t moving too much, as this will make you appear nervous.
Perhaps the most simple way to connect to your audience is by simply changing/adding a few words to your presentation that gets the audience involved. Asking rhetorical questions that use words like “we” or “you” stimulate the audience’s mind. For example, “how do we achieve this?” or “how would this affect you?” are clear and focused questions that get the audience thinking rather than having them sit and listen to your presentation.