Public speaking… does the prospect fill you with excitement or dread? Presenting to an audience doesn’t come naturally to the best of us. The activity can leave us feeling awkward and more like Mr Bean, waiting for the tumbleweed to casually blow past or the ground to swallow us up.
Even the idea of delivering a speech at a wedding may also be our idea of hell — leading us to turn into a 2002 Marshal Mathers, ‘knees weak, arms heavy’. But allow us to help you increase your confidence in this area with our ten top tips. Remember, practice makes perfect!
Capture the audience’s attention straightaway
Imagine you’re robbing a bank, you aren’t going to take the time to introduce yourself, you need to grab the attention of the teller and get out of there. A presentation is no different, get in, and with a piranha-like bite, you attack, ensuring your audience hones in. Often you are going to be using a digital presentation that will include your topic title, and they will already know your name. ‘Different’, in this circumstance, is detrimental.
Make your presentation easy to understand
It may seem like a given, but the major failings of most speeches are that the audience simply cannot understand it. The best speeches in the history of time were delivered succinctly and weren’t overflowing with jargon. The biggest mistake one can make is to overcomplicate the language used — it doesn’t simply confuse the listener, but it will more than likely cause you to trip up as well.
Battle the thought… why me?
As much as we might not like to accept it, no one in life owes us anything — it is up to us to earn their attention. We cannot expect to warrant someone’s appreciation straight off the bat, simply because of who we are. They are going to give up their precious time to listen to us, but why should they? Tell them of your experience in the area, and reason why you are the one standing up to make the presentation as opposed to them.
Have empathy for your audience
If you are expecting your audience to pay attention to you, you need to pay attention to them. That said, learn your presentation, or at the very least, the basic structure beforehand. Yes, off-the-cuff might work for one in a thousand, but no one wants to listen to someone stumble their way through their presentation with Mr Blobby-like co-ordination. Rehearsing a handful of times in front of family, friends, or even the mirror, will give you the confidence to act upon their reactions, as opposed to aimlessly talking to a screen.
Timing is critical
No one is here to suggest that a slide of a PowerPoint should take an hour, but if you try and rush through the first slide, by the second you will have lost all your audience in transit. Take a step back when you are initially planning your presentation: work out exactly how many ideas you wish to propose and assign an appropriate amount of time to each. Similarly, breathing can be incredibly under-rated — don’t starve yourself of oxygen.
Connect through emotion
No one wants to walk out after a presentation and think, ‘well there goes half an hour of my life I’m never going to get back’. Therefore, add at least the tiniest portion of emotion. You don’t have to put in a performance deserving of an Oscar but showing your audience you are interested in what you’re speaking about is essential —if you don’t care, how can you expect them to? Obviously, we won’t always be tasked with speaking about a topic we would die for, but by racking your brain and coming up with why it’s important to you, you’ve certainly made a start.
Knowing your audience is vital
Not many of us would have the same conversation with our mother and grandmother as we would do in the pub on a Saturday afternoon after football. The reason we don’t is because we can successfully take heed of our audience — and a presentation is no different. Jokes are often inappropriate in a presentation, but if you’re going to use them, at least make sure they are going to be understood.
Imagery can be make or break
Using pictures and diagrams throughout your presentation can be a fantastic method of grabbing attention, as an overload of text can often prove to be challenging to divulge, particularly if it’s a large group. However, if you are going to go down the road of using images, make sure that they can be easily seen and interpreted. The sheer quality of a picture can act as a make or break for the entire success of your presentation.
Share stories with confidence
This is something that many people will struggle to do — it requires a lot of creativity. Rather than telling jokes, this can be the perfect way to get your audience laughing, and for that, they will remember you. Your story can be whatever you want because it’s your story. Make the detail as extravagant as you like, just be confident that the content of the story relates to the purpose of your presentation.
The ending is an important element
What the audience will hear at the end is the first thing they are going to remember afterwards. It is no surprise that the cliché of ‘going out with a bang’ has stuck around for so long — because if we don’t, we’ll be forgotten in a flash.
Article provided by Where The Trade Buys, a UK company offering professional book printing services for businesses.