How do you feel about public speaking? Does your heart leap with joy at the very thought? Or are you one of the millions of people who dread it? I used to dread it but now having been a trainer for many years and also given a lot of talks and presentations, I’ve learnt to manage my nerves over time. Whether you need to give a presentation at work, at a conference, in a training session or seminar, (as I did at Traverse Events Blogstock) to a client or a speech at a wedding, there are some simple tips that can help you get your message over clearly and effectively.
Here are my Top 10 Presentation Skills Tips
1. Know the WHY, WHAT and WHO of your presentation
Why are you giving the talk? Is it to entertain, to inform, persuade, sell – what? Be clear on why you’re speaking and stay focused. What are you talking about? It’s easy to get side-tracked, especially if you don’t prepare, so keep revisiting the topic of your presentation. Who’s your audience. Find out as much as you can beforehand ie how many will be there? what do they already know? how much do they need to know? Tailor your speech appropriately.
2. Keep it simple and relevant
One of the biggest challenges to a presenter is making sure you present your content clearly, to avoid ambiguity and ensure understanding. Keep it Simple! You’re not there to show all you know, but to meet the expectations of your audience. Your audience will only be able to take in a certain amount of information – or your jokes – so keep an eye on your content
3. Rehearse and pay attention to timing
This is probably the MOST IMPORTANT tip of all. Once you have prepared your talk you must go through it before you deliver it. You’d be surprised how different it can sound once you actually speak it and of course you also need to practise using your visual aids.
4. Be real and know your subject
The most difficult goal you could set yourself is to appear to be an expert and know all things. No-one knows everything, not even Google, so just be yourself. Make sure you know what you’re talking about but don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something.
5. Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you told them
To help your audience absorb what you’re saying, outline what you going to talk about first, then present it and finally sum up what you’ve already said.
6. Create a positive impact
Start with a smile (as long as it’s appropriate); universal language understood by all. Dress for the occasion and check your appearance beforehand. Modulate your voice in a friendly manner and keep it light, unless the content is not suitable for that approach. Try not to stride about, however enthusiastic you may be (see Point 7); it distracts the audience.
7. Deliver with enthusiasm and passion
Don’t be afraid to share your passion for your subject. It will show in your voice, your face and your body language and your audience will respond more enthusiastically to your message.
8. Use Audio-Visuals carefully
You’ve no doubt experienced ‘Death by Powerpoint‘ at some time. You know, the guy who throws slide after slide onto the screen, just repeats everything that’s on it and seldom makes eye-contact with the audience. Visual Aids, including props, clothes, slides, yourself, all need to be used appropriately and with discernment. Think about your audience (see Point 1) and what will HELP you to get your message over, rather than dominate your presentation.
9. Prepare for questions and handle your audience with respect and good humour
It can be challenging to deal with audience questions, especially when they ask something to which you don’t know the answer (see Point 4). Go through possible questions and think about your answers in your preparation. If someone gets rude or aggressive, try to maintain your own good humour.
10. Remember – it’s not about you, it’s about the audience!
However much you want to share everything there is to know about your subject, keep the audience’s needs in mind and structure everything around them. Try to enjoy it!
The tips here are taken from the TQT Presentation Skills Seminar, one of the TQT Workshops I run for the Tourism, Hospitality and Creative sectors.Business Pocketbooks are excellent and I use them all the time, including the two shown above. I also offer 1-1 coaching, delivered in person or online. If you’d like to discuss some training for your business or help with Presentation Skills, contact Zoe Dawes here and let’s make it happen.