Surveys show that 70 percent of Americans think presentation skills are a critical part of career success. Why are there so many boring presentations then?
Know how to give an effective presentation comes down to a few key points. Let’s look at 5 ways to up your presentation game.
Watch Your Volume and Pace
For a presentation to be effective, everyone in the room needs to be able to hear you clearly. Make sure you’re speaking loud enough for people in the farthest point in the room to hear.
This is especially important if you don’t have a microphone and have to project your voice. You’ll probably be surprised at how loud you need to speak to be heard as well. Rehearsing with someone ahead of time will give you an idea of how loud you need to be but the room’s dynamics will change when it’s full of people.
You also need to be aware of how quickly you’re speaking when delivering your presentation. It’s natural to speed up when you’re nervous so you’ll need to make a conscious effort to slow your pace.
Concentrate on Your Core Message
Many presenters try to cram in as much information as possible when giving a presentation, to give the audience a complete picture. This is a good way to lose the crowd though.
People will only remember a few key points so jamming too much into your presentation won’t help, and will likely lead to wandering minds. Try to stick to no more than 3 key points.
Try to boil your presentation down into a 30-second elevator pitch (summary). If you can’t summarize the key points in 30 seconds, you can probably trim it down.
Using Slideshows in an Effective Presentation
Computer-based slideshow software like PowerPoint is a bit of a double-edged sword. It makes it much easier to put together a slide deck to support your talking points but it also makes it easy to go overboard.
Don’t try to rely on the slide deck to do the heavy lifting in your presentation. It should summarize your talking points and provide a visual reference for what you’re saying. Bullet points, a pie or bar chart, and easy-to-digest numbers are the sorts of things that work well.
Don’t put a wall of text on a slide and then read it to your audience. That’s one of the quickest ways to lose people’s interest.
Tell a Story
Humans are hard-wired for storytelling. Stories have been handed down from generation-to-generation for all human history. When you tell a story with your presentation, you’ll get better engagement from your audience and they’ll remember the key points better.
Focus on people, not products. Instead of talking about the widgets you’re selling, talk about how they help people. And don’t tell your audience about the manufacturing process you use, tell them the event or idea that led to the product in the first place.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The most important tip we can share for a more effective presentation is to practice ahead of time whenever possible. All the other tips will fall into place with practice.
You’ll know how loud you need to speak, and how to pace yourself. When you practice aloud, you’ll find the spots that wander from your core message. You’ll be able to see if your slide deck works as well live as it did in your mind when you put it together. And you’ll be able to find story elements to grab your audience’s attention.
Whether you practice in front of a mirror or in front of a couple of people, it will help you deliver a more polished presentation when it counts.
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