Take Your Presentation Skills to the Next Level
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Have you ever enjoyed listening to a speaker so much that the time flew by and you walked away thankful that you were part of the privileged audience? In your professional career, you too will have the opportunity to be a great presenter, but these skills typically don’t come naturally. For most of us, a successful presentation requires preparation and practice if we want to keep our audience entertained and connected. Here are some tips to help you deliver powerful presentations that can captivate any audience:
- Turn Nervousness into Excitedness – A bad case of nerves can derail your carefully planned presentation so try to redirect your feelings to those of being excited. Olympic athletes are great at doing this. When your body is responding with clammy hands, a pounding heart and a dry mouth, try to reinterpret them as side effects of excitement and anticipation. Telling yourself how excited you are can actually change your attitude.
- Be Brief, Be Bright, Be Gone – The most successful speakers understand the importance of brevity in presenting their ideas as a long, rambling presentation can really depress the energy and engagement in the room. Aim to get your points across in a shorter, succinct speech.
- Tell a Story – A presentation that provides content merely with data and graphs can be mind-numbing. Focus on your core messages and connect with your audience by sharing a relatable story or case study. Try interweaving your story throughout your presentation to develop a flow and keep your audience interested.
- Give, Don’t Take – Many presentations are provided in an attempt to help sell products or services but listeners can see through this tactic right away and may disengage. Instead of being a “taker” it’s important to be a “giver” and provide information that educates, solves a problem and offers value or inspiration.
- Speak to the Entire Audience – Target your messages to the average person in your audience to gain a better connection and responsiveness. It is ok to make eye contact, just ensure you are not stuck on one or two individuals.
- Keep Visuals Big – Using a larger font in your PowerPoint will make your text pop and grab attention. Clear, colorful photos can do the same. Do not make the mistake of having too much information on any single slide.
- Be Serious but Authentic – Your topic may require a serious tone and delivery style, but it’s also important to make people smile and feel comfortable. Mixing in a bit of humor and your own personality can make you and your presentation memorable and encourage some laughter which relaxes both the audience and you.
At the end of your presentation, you want your listeners to remember the takeaways, build loyalty to your brand and carry your information into their lives. Practicing these tips and evaluating the audience response will help you refine your delivery skills as you take your presentations to the next level.