For many people, giving a presentation is not easy. Doesn’t matter if you are presenting virtually or in person. Some are comfortable standing in front of a crowd, clicker in hand, attempting to impart a message.
However, comfort doesn’t necessarily mean competency.
I have seen many first-timers ace a presentation and many seasoned professionals make a right hash of it.
So here are a few simple presentation tips, that many people forget about, which will help you consistently deliver far better presentations.
Avoid death by PowerPoint
This advice is probably in every presentation skills article I have ever read, and yet I regularly meet with people who have a phenomenal number of slides in their deck.
One of the leading causes for packing the presentation slide deck is sheer nerves. People are nervous that they will forget what they wanted to say, and the content on the slides is there to prompt them with the right words. Others are apprehensive that what they have to say isn’t of interest, so face the screen to avoid making eye contact with the audience.
People didn’t come to hear a reading from you. They don’t want to spend an hour looking at the back of your head while you read from the screen.
Likewise, the more your audience is focused on trying to read your slides filled with your notes, the less they are listening to you.
You and your knowledge are the most crucial element of your presentation. Your slides are only there to reinforce the main points of your message. Have confidence in your message and never read to your audience. Use the slides only to reinforce your message.
Tell your story
Just getting confidence is not easy. The notion that it is just, ‘lost under the couch’ or ‘hiding in the garage somewhere’ for you to find is just nonsense, I know. Confidence comes with repetition and practice.
However, one of the areas I address in my podcast is that to become an agile speaker; you need to know your topic and prepare for your presentation.
I am also a firm believer that you need to tell a story with your presentation. Learning a speech word-for-word when you are talking for an extended period can be very difficult. If you have a good knowledge of your subject area, and you have prepared in terms of the length of time, then craft your presentation into a story. Use your slides as prompts for each chapter. You will have a more relaxed approach and also not feel the pressure if you miss a word.
Remember, the audience doesn’t know what you were going to say, so they will never know if you missed a section or moved some words around – unless you have your full presentation written on your slides!
Avoid style over substance
There are some fantastic tools for presentations now. A host of other systems has joined PowerPoint on the market to help you deliver your message. However, with so much choice, it can detract from the original purpose, which is for you to give a clear, coherent message, whether you are presenting in person or online.
Try to avoid the compulsion to add a lot of features to your slides. Remember they are there to reinforce your point, not detract from it. The more moving parts of your slide, the more you need to control, and the less you are holding your audience’s attention.
If you have a mix of colours, and your copy crosses different shades, it may become hard for your audience to read. If your font size is too small because you have tried to cram lots of information on the slide, again, it will be hard to read.
Video content can provide some inspiring context to your message. It can also create a lot of stress if you have not prepared and tested the film before your presentation. If it is a YouTube clip, make sure the wifi is working. If it is hosted in your PowerPoint, make sure the device you play it on also has the film uploaded.
All of this takes us back to the central point that people have come to hear from you, and any supporting material is just that.
Control your space
This presentation skill is often a matter of choice; however, in our recent blog, we talked about the power of non-verbal communication.
There is no set rule, but it is essential to use your body as much as you are comfortable and are in full control of your space when presenting. Your environment often dictates it:
- Is enough space to move on stage?
- Where is the laptop is or is there even a laptop;
- Is there a clicker?
- Is it is a press conference or presentation or perhaps a business pitch?
- Is there a podium?
- Is it a hand-held mic or a mic stand?
Some people prefer to be behind a podium; others prefer to move around. No matter where you feel comfortable, it is crucial you maintain a confident posture. This is also true when you are giving a virtual presentation too. If you are visible on your presentation online you need to be aware of your presence.
While we don’t expect everyone to find the stage presence of Barak Obama suddenly, there are a few simple things you should always avoid.
- Don’t slouch over the podium
- Don’t have your hands in your pockets
- Don’t fidget
- Don’t eat or chew gum
- Always have access to some drinking water
There are many other presentation tips that will help you get over any fears you might have and most importantly help you to deliver the very best presentation message for your audience. Keep an eye on our site for our downloadable guide coming soon.