It’s almost unfair when you think about those rare individuals who stroll through presentations as though it wasn’t even a challenge. But as many of us know, experienced or otherwise, presenting to a group of people is no walk in the park. In fact, for some people, it’s daunting.
Whether you’re a CEO or a fresh-out-of-uni office recruit, presentation skills are essential for business or personal success. The first problem is that most people encounter when presenting is not knowing how to deliver it. The second is just being too scared to deliver it. The first thing presenters ought to understand is that ‘presenting’ is a recognized skill and there are key elements to it. Here we break down the fundamental limbs of a successful presentation:
1. Turning nerves into positive energy
This is something that most people need to overcome. Nervous energy is good because it gives your body the adrenaline to perform in a pressurised environment. But it’s very important to be able to control your nerves and the first step in doing so is recognising that nerves are just a form of energy with a different interpretation. Harnessing this kind of energy can make your presentation lively and upbeat. If you find it difficult to overcome your nerves, there are techniques you can use to help you relax.
2. Using the correct body language
It may seem obvious but if you have your arms crossed when talking to your audience, you are creating an obvious barrier. There are different stance and different arm movements that could be left for interpretation, and body language makes up a big percentage of your communication. So it really isn’t just about what you say – it’s how you say it. Practise in front of a mirror or ask a friend to help you rehearse if you find that an open and engaging posture doesn’t come naturally to you.
3. Encouraging audience interaction
If you want an audience to respond to what you’re saying, it’s important to make your presentation interactive. This means that your presentation needs to provide interesting discussion points and cues for the audience response. Getting the audience involved will make it a more memorable event for them and can help take some of the pressure off the presenter. If your audience find the experience enjoyable, chances are you will too.
4. Entertaining and being interesting
There really is nothing more tedious than sitting through a very long and boring presentation, and if you’ve been on the other side of it, it should surely inspire you to do something a little more creative. Being able to capture the attention of your audience is important and this means that you will need to find interesting ways of communicating your messages. Use good body language, use the different tones in your voice, use images, use digital media and experiment with different forms of presenting. After time you will develop your own style. Humour can help, but don’t overdo the jokes.
5. Closing your presentation
This part is very important. Knowing how to close a presentation is fundamental if you want to avoid that awkward 3 second pause. Conclude by recapping any major points you have made to reinforce what you have told your audience. If you have time, take questions – but don’t let the discussion become too irrelevant; you can always talk about broader points more informally after the presentation.
These are just a few key areas of learning how to deliver an engaging and successful presentation. If you want to discover more, you may consider attending a presentation skills training course.
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