If the prospect of giving a presentation is a nerve-wracking one, you’re not alone. Many people feel a not insignificant amount of nerves at the idea of speaking in public, whether it’ll be their first or fiftieth time doing so.
Being as prepared as possible is the answer – practicing your presentation is one of the best ways to alleviate nerves on the day and ensure you cover all the points you want to. Below you’ll find seven tips to help both the planning stage and the presentation itself run smoothly and be an enjoyable and memorable experience for both your audience and yourself.
1. Be Concise
This may seem to go against the grain – but in most cases, a concise presentation is likely to be the most engaging and memorable. Plus, you won’t run the risk of having your audience’s attention wander!
When creating your presentation, ensure that your sentences are to the point and that everything you include, such as the words, slides, and stock photos, for example, have a purpose and serve the aims of your presentation. Editing is key to this. If your presentation currently runs to thirty minutes, see if you can make it leaner and get it down to twenty minutes. Got twenty slides on the table? Consider whether you can amalgamate them down to five.
2. Improve Your Vocal Delivery
Don’t underestimate the power of your vocal delivery when preparing your presentation. The Wharton marketing group recently published research that showed that speakers who varied the pitch, pace, and volume of their delivery were more effective in their presentations.
There are things you can do to help with this. For example, practice modulating your voice: raise the volume slightly when delivering a significant point, and pause after giving an important piece of information. Experiment with changing the cadence and pitch of your voice to add emphasis to your words and help keep your audience’s interest.
3. Don’t Forget the Wow Moment
Incorporating a wow moment or two into your presentation is a crucial way of making it memorable to your listeners. Think about creating an unexpected moment or delivering information in a novel way to capture your audience’s attention and keep them engaged.
There are near-infinite ways to go about this. Use a piece of music, introduce a surprise guest, or bring in a hands-on element to proceedings – such as passing around a product prototype – to shake things up a bit.
A wow moment can help break up the monotony of a presentation and keep your audience focused on your message. It can also create a sense of excitement and anticipation, which makes your presentation more enjoyable.
It can also help to establish your credibility as a speaker. When you’re able to deliver a powerful and memorable moment, your audience will be more likely to trust and respect you. This can be especially important if you are presenting to a group of potential clients or investors.
4. Ditch the Bullet Points
It’s tempting to create a slew of slides laden with bullet points for your presentation – but hold on a moment! What scientists call ‘pictorial superiority’ means that an audience is much more likely to remember text that’s accompanied by photos or other images rather than bullet points. To give you an idea of the effectiveness of making this shift, research has also shown that, on average, we’ll remember about 10% of the information we’ve heard three days earlier, but if a picture is added to the same piece of information, we’ll remember around 65% of it.
With this in mind, try not to show slides or other media that just contains written information – always incorporate relevant images when you can to make your presentation significantly more memorable to your audience.
5. Structure Your Presentation
View your presentation like a story: structure it with a clear beginning, middle, and conclusion, and figure out the most effective points at which to add, for example, audiovisual or other elements. This can help you organize your presentation in a cohesive way and deliver information in a way that brings your audience along on the journey with you.
Start by breaking down the information or message into its component ‘bricks’ – the most important details you want to get across. You could also think about your structure thematically – are there motifs or central messages that you can weave through your speech to create a satisfying, comprehensive presentation that your listeners will enjoy – and remember?
6. Understand Your Audience
Knowing how to engage your audience is only possible if you understand, broadly, who you’re talking to. So, before designing your presentation, make sure you know roughly how many people will be in attendance and who will be speaking (and their subject matter) both before and after you.
It’s also crucial to find out and fully understand any theme that’s part of the event and the level of experience or knowledge your audience is likely to have regarding what you’ll be speaking about. Finally, it’s important to consider what your listeners will want to hear about and what is likely to interest them. All of these things will help you craft a successful presentation.
7. Practice – Using a Stopwatch
And finally – as we mentioned at the top, keeping your presentation relatively short and sweet is crucial to prevent your audience’s attention from wandering and keep your message as memorable as possible. So, to this end, practice as much as possible using a stopwatch!
While it’s vital to remain flexible in your presentation, so you can switch things up a little depending on the ‘mood’ or tone of the audience, having a rock-solid grip on the main structure and content will help you stay on track and project confidence.
Incorporating these seven tips into your presentation can help you create a memorable experience for your audience. Remember to focus on engaging visuals, clear messaging, and a confident delivery.
By practicing and refining your skills, you can become a skilled presenter who leaves a lasting impression on your audience. So go ahead and give it your all – your next presentation is sure to be a success!