How To Improve Your Presentation Skills
Everybody in their life has to give a presentation. It is not an easy thing to do because you feel the pressure of having an audience concentrated on you. Even if you are an expert on a particular subject, not everybody is born with a natural talent for public speaking. However, there are various ways in which you can become a better speaker and with it a better presenter. So whether you are getting ready for a general presentation or preparing for a sales pitch, here are our tips on how to improve your presentation skills.
It is natural to want to practice your presentation before the big day itself. Your busy schedule won’t always allow for time to do this, but to succeed effort needs to be put in. If you feel the need to practice every night over and over, then you should. It will also give you an idea of what you want to say to your audience. You might know your subject well, but even you shouldn’t have to wing it – this could lead to even more nerves. Give yourself peace of mind for the presentation and write a script. This will at least make you feel reassured knowing your words are ready and waiting.
Practicing on your own is great but you can get a better idea of how your presentation is shaping up by having a smaller audience to test it on. A practice run with a friend or colleague will give you vital feedback. You could even record yourself presenting and play it back for evaluation. This will give you enough information for refining your overall presentation.
2. Use your nerves to your advantage
Everybody gets nervous during a presentation but it’s up to you how you use it. You can either let it affect your presentation or turn it into enthusiastic energy. A speaker who shows enthusiasm can be more interesting than a typically eloquent one. Your body language can really engage an audience, especially when it’s positive. Thrive on the situation in front of you and don’t let it get to you.
3. Watch other presentations
If you are presenting at a conference, a great way of improving your skills is to watch other presenters. You can get some great tips just seeing how they work a room and how audience members respond to them. Is this an audience that likes a joke? Do they like to get involved? You can even reference another speaker at the event to play off what they have already said – if it links to your own.
4. Adjust to your surroundings
You will perform better if you feel comfortable within the room you are presenting in. Spend some time taking in the room, practice with the lighting, and test the microphone. You should also familiarise yourself with whatever tool is being used to display your presentation – avoiding technical hitches is a must for keeping you calm! Understand the seating arrangements and make a note of any potential distractions that could disturb your presentation.
5. Visualise your success
Nervousness can allow negativity to spread in your mind which consequently can lead to a bad presentation. By imagining the positive scenario of a great presentation, it will probably go as you imagine. The power of positive thought will get you through the difficult build up because you know you are going to succeed!
6. Take deep breaths
It can be hard to remember to breathe when you are nervous, but you most certainly should! As our muscles tighten, you will catch yourself holding your breath at times but this will not allow you to relax. Take in those big, deep breaths to allow oxygen to your brain. This will not only keep your mind focused, it will also relax your entire body.
7. Be concise
It’s easy to throw everything at your presentation because you want to ensure all of your key messages are there. However, it might not be possible to condense complex subjects into a 10-minute presentation. If you are delivering a sales pitch for example, you don’t want to bog down your audience with too many numbers as you could lose their interest. Knowing what you need to include and what you can leave out is crucial to the success of any good presentation. A rigorous editing process will keep your presentation focused and concise enough with the key points for your audience. Anything you do leave out could potentially be used in another presentation.
8. Connect with your audience
Presentations are typically a one-sided affair of a single speaker to an audience. However, you can mix this up by actively involving your audience. Asking them for their opinion, maintaining eye contact, inviting questions and even welcoming participation can boost engagement and make them feel part of the conversation. When you answer questions, it will give your audience something they want whilst showing off your knowledge even more.
9. Be entertaining
A professional presentation isn’t just about showcasing pieces of information. Part of how information is retained by the audience is how memorably you have presented it. Throw in a few jokes or light-hearted slides to allow everybody in the room (including yourself) to feel comfortable. However, getting the right balance is crucial to maintaining that professionalism. It isn’t a stand-up routine and your audience aren’t expecting one. Showing your presentation to friends can tell you right away if you have got the balance right.
10. Use a CRM for correct data
When presenting a huge amount of information, it is important to make sure you have the right statistics to hand. With a CRM such as Salesforce, you can have up-to-the-minute sales data that you need to wow your audience with. If you’re in a sales pitch, this can be the difference in turning your lead into a sale. The platform can also be modified so you have data suitable for presenting – this is better than just throwing numbers at your audience!
Whether you want to build yourself as a confident salesperson, or just an improved general public speaker, by following these tips you can have effective presentations in the future.