The ability to make an effective presentation is an important business skill. As a presenter, you need to get your point across. And if you do so effectively, not only does your audience gain information, but you look good.
Yet many people, at all levels, are unsure how to appear confident and credible when speaking in front of others. Over the past few months, even seasoned professionals have been among those I have coached on presentation skills.
Whether you are a manager explaining new programs to your employees, a chief financial officer giving a financial update to the media, or a vice president speaking in front of your board of directors, following these 10 suggestions will help you achieve presentation success:
1. Know your audience. Learn as much as you can about your audience before the presentation. How much do they already know about your topic? What more do they want to know? If you address the needs and concerns of the people in your audience, they are more likely to listen to you.
2. Practice out loud. You want to hear how the presentation sounds. Saying it in your head isn’t good enough. Is it structured logically? Are you using transitions between points? Does the presentation make sense? Hearing the speech as your audience will hear it helps you to clarify the areas you need to work on.
3. Dress for the presentation. Your attire can help you appear as a self-assured person. Think about your audience members and what they will be wearing. Dressing slightly better than your audience adds to your credibility.
4. Mingle before the presentation. When you can, meet the participants. Go up to people, shake hands, introduce yourself, and welcome these individuals to the presentation. This rapport-building helps people connect with you, and allows you to feel more comfortable with them.
5. Establish your credibility. Make sure the audience knows why you are qualified to talk about the subject. If you are not already known to the audience, or if nobody introduces you, give a self-introduction at the beginning of your presentation.
6. Pay attention to your nonverbal communication. Use good posture, and look at people in the audience. Remember that gestures bring your words to life, but avoid nervous fiddling, such as playing with a pen or rubber band. Speak loudly enough to be heard. (Additional information on communication can be found in my new book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette.)
7. Don’t discount yourself. Avoid comments that belittle you or your talk. These include such statements as, “I hope I don’t bore you, but I am going to talk about…” or “I know you didn’t come here to hear me.” Be careful with filler words. If the audience is counting the number of times you say um, they are not listening to what you have to say – and too many filler words make you appear unprepared and nervous, too.
8. Tell stories. Stories bring your presentation to life. When discussing a specific point, concept, product or service, tell a story about someone who proves your point or benefits from your service. Your audience will remember the story, and as a result your presentation. (See my previous blog, Tell Tale: Bring Your Presentation to Life, for additional information on using stories.)
9. Use slides to enhance your presentation. Slides should supplement and support your talk, not supplant it. They are not your presentation! Limit the information on each slide.
10. Anticipate the questions. Think about the questions that you may be asked, and know how you will respond. If you prepare ahead of time for every negative or harsh comment you can imagine, you are less likely to be caught off guard.
Pachter & Associates provides training and coaching on presentation skills. For additional information, contact Joyce Hoff at 856.751.6141 or firstname.lastname@example.org