When you watch presentations at any public speaking event, do you ever wonder how the speaker can make it seem so easy? Speaking confidently and persuasively in front of an audience doesn’t come naturally for most people. However, it is a skill that can be picked up with enough practice. Whether you’re simply presenting to fellow colleagues or need to impress some prospective clients, knowing tips in presentation skills is important to have in handy.
There are many ways to bring your A-game to any presentation. Know how to improve your presentation skills with these tips.
Research your target audience. Design your presentation as if you were going to listen to your own talk: Put yourself in your audience's shoes. Ask yourself the three main takeaways you would want them to have by the end of your presentation.
Make sure that you cover the things that they need and would want to know. You may be an expert in the subject matter, but in your presentation, don't assume that everyone knows what you know. Explain things clearly and avoid using jargon as much as possible. Your presentation should give listeners something of value, be it a solution or a lesson.
The best way to keep your presentation engaging is to use stories; this hones in on your key messages and emphasises your point. Briefly outline what you will be presenting at the start of your talk. Tell an anecdote or two to make your presentation more personal and relatable. It doesn’t even have to be your own story, but if it’s interesting and relevant, use it to your advantage.
Don’t clutter your slides with too many words or photos. Go beyond text and pictures by using a short video or other multimedia to spice things up. However, it should enhance what you’re trying to say, not drown it out unnecessarily. Remember to use the appropriate type of media for the presentation. You don’t want to use memes or GIFs in a board meeting.
Statues and robots aren’t known for giving memorable presentations, and that’s because non-verbal cues make up a significant portion of interpersonal communication. Open and relaxed gestures will also help your audience feel open and relaxed.
One of the best ways to connect with listeners is to make eye contact and smile. Avoid crossing your arms across your chest, putting your hands behind your back or in your pockets, and staring down at the floor. Move your hands or walk around if that’s possible. Don’t limit yourself to just the podium.
Emotions are powerful. Facts and statistics may be informative, but if you fail to link them to your audience and the things they care about, they will probably forget what you said by the next day. Infuse your delivery with emotion; consider why your audience should care.
When you exude enthusiasm and passion about the subject you're talking about, your audience will feel it, and they, too, will feel more interested in what you have to say. Speak deliberately, and don't rush your sentences like you're reading off a script. Instead, pretend like it's a conversation. People may nod off or stop paying attention when you speak too fast or sound like you have just memorised your presentation.
Presentations can become one-sided if you’re not mindful. Make your audience feel like they are part of your talk. Ask short questions or insert a poll or survey. It makes you more relatable and approachable to those listening. Make eye contact with people rather than scanning the room constantly.
If you’re asked a question that you’re not prepared for or are unsure of, that’s also okay. You’re not expected to know everything. If this happens to you, thank the person for the question and admit your uncertainty. By doing so, you become more credible. Acknowledge that you’re still learning along the way.
Time is gold, as the old saying says. Whether you’re presenting in a meeting or at an event, be mindful of your audience’s time. Try to finish your presentation ahead of the allocated time, including time for questions. When you’re planning your talk, already account for how much time you need for each main topic. Don’t pack your presentation with too much information, and don’t speak too fast just so you can cover everything you want to say. Keep it short and simple.
You should know your subject matter and key points like the back of your hand, which is why prep work is so important. Prepare an outline with keywords relating to your main points and examples. Rehearse your speech out loud – either to yourself in front of a mirror or, even better, in front of trusted friends or co-workers. You can also try to present your talk in different positions, such as sitting down or standing up, so you become more comfortable talking about the subject matter.
The more you practise, the more prepared you'll be when the time comes for the actual presentation. You'll be able to weed out what works and doesn't and time yourself to make sure you don't drag on and on.
Having technical difficulties during your presentation can throw you off. So, smoothing out all the kinks beforehand will ensure that everything goes smoothly. Arrive at the venue early. Do a brief test run to check whether everything works, such as videos, animations, or sound.
Save a copy of the presentation, the fonts you used, and the multimedia you want to show in a pen drive. Do you need the internet during the presentation? Make sure it works and that you’re connected. If you’re using a remote or a pointer, try them out to see if they work. Doing all this will help you avoid tripping up as you approach the finishing line.
Have faith in yourself and your skills. It’s not just being knowledgeable in the subject matter. You have to sound confident. No one will believe a speaker if they don’t sound like they know what they’re talking about. Since you’re practised before your talk, you’ve already started building confidence. Bring that confidence to your talk. Walk the talk and look confident when you speak.
Learning from others is a great way to pick up inspiration. JobStreet's #SEEKScapes workshops happening on March 4–5, 2023, will be jam-packed with speakers from whom you can get presentation tips. Not only will you discover more about yourself and your career, but you can also learn how to effectively deliver a presentation from the speakers.
Knowing these tips in presentation skills will help you nail those talks and meetings in no time. While getting better doesn’t happen overnight, you can improve and learn how to make presentations interesting as you go along.
Ace those presentations and #SEEKBetter work. Explore management jobs and openings that will put your newfound presentation skills to good use. Update your profile at JobStreet and find the work that aligns with your passion and purpose.
For more expert tips and advice on improving in the workplace, check out our Career Resources Hub.