Regardless of your industry or position, there will come a time when you need to present information to an unfamiliar crowd. This can be nerve-wracking, even at the executive level. To help you prepare here are 3 steps you can take to improve your presentation skills:
- Talk, don’t present
Somehow just hearing the word “presentation” can cause anxiety, most likely due to some sort of subliminal fear we have all felt at one point or another during our school days when we were forced to present a report to the class as the teacher furiously scribbled notes. Instead, think of this as a one-way conversation between you and your audience. Don’t take this too far, though, and start going off script during your presentation. If you have any asides you wish to add, make note of them in your notes so that you can include them at an appropriate time. Going rogue during a presentation usually does not work well. You can keep your tone light and conversational while maintaining a formal appearance and approach.
While this might seem like the most obvious point, along the way we start thinking of ourselves as super-human beings who don’t need to practice presentations ahead of time. This is not the case. Even though you may know the material and be very comfortable speaking to a large audience, practicing is still important. When you practice, you will notice any portions that don’t make sense or just don’t fit. You also will be able to keep track of your time so that you don’t go over or under the allotted time. Practice is a good way to prepare yourself so you aren’t thrown off by a missing slide or other information. Your best bet is to grab a friend or co-worker who can listen to you while you practice and offer constructive, honest feedback.
3. Anticipate audience reaction:
As you prepare your presentation, anticipate the questions your audience will ask. Do your best to include everything in your presentation, but also make notes of what you had to exclude due to time constraints so that you can be ready when it comes time for Q&A. Take any resources and notes with you while you present for easy access during Q&A, and be honest. if you truly do not know an answer, don’t make one up. Admit that the question is going beyond your knowledge of the subject and offer to meet with the questioner one-on-one afterward to exchange contact info so that you can look up the answer to the question later.
Presentations can be intimidating, but they can also be enjoyable and even fun when you know your content and are comfortable speaking to an audience. The above tips will help you develop your own presentation style so that you can stop dreading giving presentations. For more ideas on how to improve your presentation skills, contact us.