How To Give A Killer Presentation This Year

@natalieoffduty

If you hate public speaking, then trust me, you’re not alone! Not all of us were blessed with TED Talk skills, and for most of us giving presentations can be an absolute nightmare. It’s one of those things we’re always looking to improve on, and it’s true what they say; practice really does make perfect. Because let’s be honest, as much as we want to we can’t avoid presentations forever. You’re going to be asked to do one at some point, whether it’s for work or uni. So, as with everything we want to make sure we smash it, and here’s how:

 

1. Tell a story

Everyone loves a story, and the way to capture an audience’s attention is by hooking them in a narrative. As humans, we cannot help but be curious, especially when the story is entertaining and relatable. But, it’s how you tell your story that affects how the audience will receive your message. So use it as a perfect opportunity to pitch your product or explain a new idea by setting the scene and taking your listeners into the right headspace. Structure your presentation with a problem, a climax, and a solution, making sure it all leads to your main point. Use analogies, personal experiences and relatable imagery to illustrate your message. Phrases like ‘imagine this’, ‘what if’ and ‘what would it feel like to…’ will get your audience to engage.

2. Use Visual Aids

Powerpoint slides are a great asset. They provide a visual stimulus for your listeners so they’ll be far less likely to zone out! But, don’t make the mistake that many people often do. Powerpoints are great, yes, but when you overload them with text and information they go from great to boring. You want to outline main, short points and include a lot of visuals. Let yourself do all the talking and never, ever read off of your powerpoint. You will lose that valuable connection with your audience when it’s essential you engage.

Slides are great for sharing data, images, highlighting key points and providing headings and subheadings, but are not there to substitute your notes! You can try alternatives to powerpoint like Custom Show or Haiku Deck to the get the most out of your slides. If in doubt, remember the 10/20/30 Rule: Ten slides, in under twenty minutes, containing no font smaller than thirty points. Simple!

3. Own the stage

Aside from having a wonderfully laid out presentation and an engaging slideshow, you must also nurture confidence. If you have any experience acting in high school, this will take you a long way. Channel it! But if you don’t, no need to worry. Use your voice and body language to own the stage. Stand tall, make yourself big, open up your chest and hold your ground. Never cross your arms or shift from foot to foot. Face the audience head-on, gesticulate and smile! Don’t be afraid to speak up. This will show confidence and demand attention.

4. Slow it down

Remember not to speak too quickly. The last thing you want to do is rush through your ten-minute presentation in three minutes. Take your time and don’t panic. Your attitude needs to reflect confidence. Speak slowly and don’t be afraid of emphatic silences. Allow space for applause and laughter before you resume speaking. This shows you are responsive to the audience. If you’re unsure, watch some videos of TED Talks to pick up the rhythm of other speakers and mimic them!

5. Interact with your audience

Interaction is key to building trust with your audience. You want the presentation to feel conversational, making it more likely the audience will be persuaded by your argument and will retain the information. Ask questions, take a show of hands, and make eye contact. You can also try rehearsing a joke. Humour is a great way to get your listeners on board but always keep it fairly safe. If you never tell jokes in real life, maybe just skip it. Nobody wants to hear a forced and awkward joke!

6. Practice practice practice

Banish any uncertainty so that you well and truly know your stuff. You should either have your presentation memorized, or use a list of bullet-pointed prompts. Either way, your message should be crisp and clear in your mind. Think of this as a performance and truly seize the space. It’s yours. No apologies! No one can get through any presentation without practicing at least few times!

 

What tricks have you used to give a great presentation recently, or tell us about your favorite speakers? Let us know in the comments below…

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  • I have a presentation to do next week and I am defo going to use these tips

    http://www.petiteelliee.com

    Ellie xx

  • Janet McGee

    When I performed my senior recital in college, I specifically selected 3 pieces for solo flute because they were programmatic pieces; each one told a story. Before playing each piece, I told its story. “Syrinx” is the Greek myth that tells how music was born. Seeing his beloved dryad turned into reeds, Syrinx, out of his broken heart, tears through the reeds and blows across their tops. “And this is the song he played,” I said, and began to play Debussey’s major contribution to the flute repertoire. I spoke slowly. Each word carried weight. After my 90-minute recital, my audience had two reactions: they liked watching me dance while I played (I had no idea), and they really liked my story-telling. My point? Don’t rush. Give each word weight, and your audience will weigh it with you.

  • Janet McGee

    I have presented expert witness testimony at over 40 public hearings as a biologist with training in plant taxonomy and wetlands ecology. There were a number of things I discovered along the way. I so approached reports in no way that resembled my last-minute hustles during college. As an expert witness, preparation is 98% of the battle. Any site visits and listings of flora and fauna were completed with a few weeks to go. My first draft was finished at least a week before show time. It helped so much to anticipate questions that other parties might have, and I made sure to provide answers in my written report. After my first few experiences at public hearings, I was ready to proceed without gripping my written submission as if it were my sole source of air. I entered hearing rooms knowing that I had to qualify myself for the record, state when I had conducted site visits, what species I observed, and what values the wetland had. I described the proposed project and any anticipated impacts it might have on regulated areas and on the State’s interests. As required by the National Environmental Policy Act, I described as many alternatives as I could imagine. I gave my assessment of a proposal’s consistency with State and federal regulations and statutes. It may sound boring, but I stuck to a prescribed format, so that hearing officers could anticipate what I would address next. During my early hearings, opposing attorneys would object to me giving my Reader’s Digest version of my report. By being a bit tongue-in-cheek, I convinced opposing attorneys that our job was definitely not to bore the hearing officer to tears. Hearing officers knew what to expect from me, so they never ruled against my giving oral testimony, while also submitting a written report. A little humor went a long way. Doing all the research I felt necessary was a big part of success. Preparation was, by far, my greatest asset. Overall, even though I am not an attorney, I won 93% of my cases. When the hearing officer required parties to submit legal briefs, my win rate went up to 100%. Know your material. Know your audience. Structure your presentation and report, not to impress, but to be as useful and as user-friendly as decision-makers need. When in doubt, be honest. Speaking truth to power is never easy (it cost me 5 pounds in a single weekend), but it will always work. Be your conviction.