The best presentations are those that are engaging and tailored to the audience. Yet, even after putting in countless hours of preparation before facing clients, bosses or colleagues, poor delivery can make your audience switch off.
While presentations may be commonplace, the process of building your case to going through the act of presenting can still be nerve-wrecking for many. How can you make your points hit home? We delve into what professionals can do to craft and deliver stronger business presentations.
Before you start filling up your slides, think about the purpose of your presentation – is it mean to inform or persuade? Try framing the key message or purpose of your presentation in the first one or two slides. Taking a bird’s eye view on the whole presentation will not only help you better structure your delivery, but also make it easier for your audience to get hooked on the message more quickly and follow your train of thought.
Be aware of what the stakeholders in the audience are looking to get out of listening to you, and then structure the flow of your presentation depending on their needs so as to better engage the audience.
A messy slide chock-full of information will not relate your ideas well, but neither will a skimpy slide with too little information. Clarity is part of the equation for keeping your audience engaged. If they do not understand what you are trying to share, they will lose interest and switch off.
Therefore, it will be useful to include elements that will help your audience absorb the information, such as graphs, tables or key phrases which you can verbally elaborate on. This strategically placed data will also benefit those who are more visual learners.
Once you have vetted your slides, it is necessary to be familiar with your content in order to be more effective in sharing your presentation.
Practice your presentation out loud. What may sound right in your head may seem strange once you actually hear it. If time is tight, at least remember the transitions for each slide so you would not end up staring awkwardly at the next slide thinking of what to say. Familiarity with your content will also make you more confident in front of the crowd, making your delivery much smoother.
When it comes to your presentation day, there are several aspects of your physical appearance and aural delivery that would be helpful to keep in mind. While you may be fully acquainted with your material, you shouldn’t be reciting them off cue cards, which may make you look stiff and unnatural. Make room for flexibility and comfort – how you present is just as important as what you present, and this includes both physical and oral communication.
Whether you are standing on stage or presenting from your seat in the meeting room, the key is to carry yourself with confidence. As popular culture likes to put it: fake it till you make it. Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy revealed in a TED Talk that going through the act of standing in a confident posture, or power posing, can actually trick your mind to boosting your confidence.
When nervous, people tend to overcompensate with physical movements like swaying from side to side, fidgeting and looking anywhere else but the audience. On the flipside, making eye-contact with your audience helps to keep them engaged. Keep these in check for a less distracting presentation.
One sure way to lose your audience is to speak in a monotonous tone. When presenting, consider varying the speed and pitch at which you speak. This also means intentionally including pauses, which may be helpful after making an important point. Finding the right balance between being professional and conversational is also crucial to better engage with your audience in the business setting.
Giving a good presentation goes beyond having an elaborate deck of slides. It is important to understand how these factors bolster the calibre of your content and delivery. Clearer and more relevant content, coupled with a well-practised manner of carrying yourself, will add more authority and a convincing quality to your presentation. When planning your next one, apply these tips for a more impactful presentation.
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