“There are always three speeches for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” – Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Giving a presentation in front of a huge crowd or even a small group of people can be a nerve-racking task. The purpose of a presentation can be anything ranging from selling an idea and sharing facts to motivating employees and training interns. Regardless of the purpose, the way you present your project to the crowd can define your career at the workplace. Thus, it is vital to ensure that your message gets across loud and clear and you connect with your audience well.
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So, how do you keep your audience engaged? How can you add value to your presentation? What are the improvements that you need to make in your presentation skills? The answer is simple: research, know your audience and learn to present yourself gracefully without pushing over.
So here are a few tips to ace your next presentation.
Make it audience-centric
You have to get into the shoes of your audience and understand what makes them tick. When you present your audience with something they care about, they will willingly listen to you. So, know your audience and empathise with their ideas. What makes them excited about a particular subject? What are they looking forward to take away from your presentation? Are they looking for a motivational speech, or do they want to know data? Do your homework and create content that resonates to connect better with your listeners.
“There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.” – Alexander Gregg, American clergyman
Don’t keep a straight face – add some humour and entertainment
Acknowledge the fact that neither you nor your colleagues are robots. The human brain fuels on passion, so make sure your presentation is driven by it. Your task is not to just blab out facts, figures and statistics. Lighten the mood by adding humour or quotes. You can also try interacting with the audience by putting up interesting questions at random. This will keep them alert and motivated throughout the presentation. Using the principles of story will further help your audience be persuaded by your idea. Weave your content around a story and break the monotony by taking pauses in between. As they say, “well-timed silence hath more eloquence than speech.”
Lock your eyes
Make eye contact with each and everyone present in the room. The biggest mistake you can make is to keep staring at the screen. This gives the vibe that you are unprepared or nervous. While many people might suggest that looking at the back wall and your computer screen is a good idea to curb nervousness, the truth is it’s not – especially if you are giving the presentation in a small conference room. Rehearse your arguments and performance before the presentation to enhance the result.
Nothing kills a good presentation more than a presenter who just mumbles. Be confident and enunciate your words so that your audience can actually understand what you are saying. Practice some deep breathing exercises before starting the presentation. This will calm you down. What you need to do right before you walk on to the stage is to tweak your body’s chemistry a bit.
Present your main message at least three times
Start your presentation with your main message. Spend the rest of your presentation flashing those points and conclude your presentation by reminding them of the central point of the presentation. Keep in mind that listeners are most attentive during the first and the last five minutes of the presentation. So, make sure to keep the beginning and the end of your presentation entertaining and strong.
They say practice makes a man perfect. So practice, a lot! It will help build your confidence, avoid awkward encounters and keep your train of thought on track.