Giving presentations is an essential part of most people's careers these days. Mastering powerpoint is an artform in itself, but the material that you present is quite separate from your actual style of presentation, which is what we look at here.
Typically people fall into three categories when it comes to presenting:
- The Natural: this person takes to presenting like a duck to water
- Willing to Learn: this person is not so good at presenting, but is enthusiastic and takes any opportunity to develop their skills and present
- The Reluctant Presenter: this person shies away from presenting as they do not feel they have good presentation skills, and will turn down opportunities to present unless 'forced' to do so
You will probably know which category you fall into. Whichever one it is, these tips are relevant.
Practice Makes Perfect
The first tip is the most obvious - the more you present the better you get. That's why great presenters are great - because they present a lot and get better and better. Those who aren't so good shy away, and hence never get better!
Content Is King
The content of your presentation is very important. Make sure that you cut the material down into digestible nuggets, and keep your focus on each slide. Start with your key message, reinforce during the presentation, and end with the same point.
Similarly, make sure that you learn your presentation inside out before you give it - this will give you the confidence to concentrate on the delivery and the method of delivery rather than the content and the words.
One of the main hindrances to a good performance is talking too quickly. Many nervous presenters speed up and this makes things very hard to understand and digest. As well as speaking slowly, include pauses at regular intervals. This enables you to get your breath and collect your thoughts, and also allows the listener to digest and think over what you have just said.
Do Not Fidget
Often through nerves or just force of habit, people fidget when giving a presentation. This might mean playing with a pencil or tapping their foot, or touching their hair or jewellery. These habits distract the listener and imply a poor presentation style - therefore you should try to avoid this where possible.
Vary your tone and smile
Finally, try to raise and lower your voice as appropriate. A monotone turns people off and sends them to sleep after a few minutes. Also smile and look confident as you present - this will really help.