There may well come a time in your business life when you have to deliver a presentation for clients and you will want to make a positive impression. To many, public speaking is very intimidating but it is a skill that can be acquired.
Here are some suggestions and tips to make presentations easier:
- Confidence is a great selling point, feeling fully prepared when you go into a presentation is going to make you and your audience feel secure. When you are developing the content of your presentation, make sure you have a beginning, a middle and an end.
- Make sure you understand the goals of the presentation; what do you and the audience need to get out of it? Ensure that you have your materials ready in plenty of time before you deliver, so you can set up quickly without adding to your nerves.
- Ahead of the day, practice what you are going to say, either to a mirror or a tolerant friend. This will help you to refine the narrative, ensure you get timings correct and as a result, you will come across as prepared and competent. You will also be more familiar with the presentation, which will help to reduce your nerves on the day.
- If you are presenting for the first time or simply delivering new material, you need to accept that it may not be perfect. I’m an experienced trainer but when delivering new material, I will need to practice and finesse new elements before and after delivery. Hopefully, all will go very well. But if it doesn’t, learn from it, change it, prepare and practice for next time.
These steps will help you to focus your presentation and keep polishing it until it is second nature. The more confidence you show in set up and delivery, the more trust you can build with your clients.
Here are some more tips on perfecting your presentation skills:
- Breath is the engine of the voice, air from your lungs pass over your vocal cords and is transmitted to your audiences’ ears. So it is a good idea to breathe in before you speak.
- Breathing is also a great way to combat nerves, a couple of good deep breaths before presenting increases oxygen in your system relaxing your muscles and energising your brain.
- Easier said than done, but if you follow the advice above it will help you to keep a level head and feel more in control of the situation. There are many relaxation techniques you can use to get you in the right frame of mind for presentation. Deep breathing, stretches and visualisation can really help to combat nerves.
Know your audience
- Research your audience just as vigorously as your content. Tailor your content to them, if they are technical include appropriate jargon and technical detail; if they are non-technical then avoid jargon and try using plain language instead.
- Also, try to pre-empt the questions you may be asked during and after the presentation, you can prepare answers for the most commonly asked questions so the flow of the presentation isn’t interrupted and you appear knowledgeable and confident.
- The critical outcome of any presentation is that the audience understands your message and your goals.
If you take one point away from this article, it is this: keep it simple.
Winston Churchill wrote all his speeches for the comprehension of a 12-year-old, as he understood the power of simple words. Never try to impress anyone with your vocabulary, impress them with your knowledge, experience and passion.
It is not about flash and filibuster, it is about content.
Michael Niles is a trainer at Wenta and can be found delivering our training courses across Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.