6 ways to improve your presentation skills07 Feb 2019
Public speaking is a daunting task for many people. However, by improving your presentation skills, you can feel more confident when stepping up in front of an audience.
I've collected six of my favourite ways to improve presentation skills for you below.
1. It's not about you
It's not you that's important in a presentation, it's the audience.
A presentation isn't a chance to display your knowledge on a subject. The important people in a presentation are the listeners. Whether by providing them the information needed, or convincing them of how something will help them, you should make a presentation for your audience's benefit.
One method I like to use to make sure I meet my audience's needs is imagining myself coming into the presentation. What are my expectations of the presenter? What information am I hoping to receive? Is there a specific pain point I'm looking for a solution to?
Once you've identified what your audience want from the presentation, narrow it down to what's most important and provide it to them.
Create a clear focus for your presentation, and stick to it. Make sure you're providing the audience with something useful. They should walk out at the end having learnt something that they can then use themselves.
By learning to identify and narrow in on what people need from your presentation, you can become more skilled at providing it for them.
2. Script and rehearse
A good presentation requires preparation and practice. It's necessary to know your subject inside out as that understanding will show through when you speak. I find that I have a lot more confidence when talking about something that I'm familiar with.
Writing your speech out helps clarify what you want to say and allows you to practice efficiently. Rehearsing your presentation is essential. By running through it until you are comfortable with what you've prepared, you're less likely to stumble or make mistakes on the day.
3. Tell a story and keep it conversational
Humans are storytellers. By weaving a story to demonstrate the point to your presentation, you're more likely to keep your listeners engaged. They'll learn better from something they can relate with than bare facts that don't have a tale to link them together.
Try to keep your presentation chatty as well, as if it's an active conversation between you and your audience. Using everyday language means your listeners can more easily absorb what you're saying. You don't want them getting distracted by trying to understand terms they're not familiar with.
The more you use plain language and enlist stories to weave your presentation together, the stronger your delivery skills will become.
4. Change it up
A presentation requires more than just you talking. I'm sure you know how hard it is, trying to stay focused when listening to someone drone on without anything else to engage you. However, it's easy to listen for hours when someone is dynamic and engaging. There are a few ways you can change your presentation up.
- Encourage interaction. Ask your audience a question, or ask for their opinion. Get them talking amongst themselves as well.
- Use eye contact.
- Body language is vital. Make sure you move and gesture at the right moments.
- Incorporate different mediums. If you're using slides, keep them interesting with good image to text balance. Consider using a video if it's appropriate, to break the presentation up. Sometimes physical displays are useful as well. You can hand something out to your audience and get them to follow your instructions, or demonstrate it yourself.
- Think about your voice. Are you projecting it, or varying your tone and volume? Avoid being monotone. Instead, employ passion to step your vocals up a notch.
5. Get a critique
If you want to improve your presentation skills, critique is essential. Ask a friend or a peer to listen to you rehearse. Another option is to ask someone from the audience that you trust to give you feedback after your presentation.
Consider recording one of your practices and watching it yourself. Often seeing yourself do the presentation can highlight areas you need to work on that you wouldn't have picked up on otherwise.
If you're struggling, or you want to become a better presenter, invest in coaching. The critique and advice you receive from someone who knows what to look for will help you progress rapidly and develop engaging presentations.
6. Arrive early
Arriving early to where you'll be making your presentation is useful for many reasons. It gives you time to ensure that everything is running smoothly and you're set up properly. Nothing interrupts the flow of a presentation like tech problems or not having the right things with you.
The extra time also allows you to settle and become comfortable with the space. You don't want to feel flustered or rushed when you go to present. Instead, you can focus on the skills you've learnt and how you're going to employ them.
If you want to know more about how ICML can help you become a skilled and engaging presenter, get in touch today.