Giving a presentation in front of a large group of people, especially if it is a reflection of recent work you’ve been doing, can be quite nerve-racking. Many people don’t know how to prepare for presentations and lose the ability to make a significant impact on their career – whether they are journalists, business partners, real estate agents, or potential employees. Here are some ways you can improve your presentation skills and show people that you are an expert in your field:
First, nobody wants to sit through a dull black and white presentation where the speaker is rambling – show energy! When you are presenting to a group of people, it should not be allocated like a lecture hall for a three-hundred person college course. On the other hand, it should also not be handled like a small conversation you have with friends at a dinner party. You have the floor, so get people to listen.
Most people get bored very quickly, so being able to speak about a subject with passion and authority is critical. Take it out of your comfort zone and project your voice so that people will listen to you instead of squirming around in their chairs. Make sure you pay close attention to the way you are using body language and the speed in which you are talking. Using your hands and speaking slowly to emphasize a point is a great way to grasp your audience’s attention.
Speaking of the audience – know the people that you are presenting for. A great way to prepare before even writing the first draft of your presentation is to research who the audience will be. Ask the conference organizer specific details like how many people will be in the audience, who is speaking before you, what other speakers will be talking about, if there is a theme of the event, and how well-versed the audience is on the subject you are presenting. These details are vital in getting to know the environment that you will be performing in and can make all the difference in the outcome of your presentation.
Next, be sure your presentation is aesthetically pleasing and based on visuals. According to an article written by Mark Suster, published on his website Both Sides of the Table:
“Bullet points were the worst thing ever created for group presentations. Nobody wants to read your text on a big screen. If you’re going to do that, why not just print out your presentation and leave it on my seat. Far more expedient. Your presentation should have almost no bullet points. The way to capture an audience’s attention is visual. Pictures set the image; your voice tells what would have been in the bullet points” (Suster, How to Nail a Group Presentation).
Lastly, tell a story. All great presentations include stories because they are great ways to connect with each member of the audience through emotions. Stories tell people why you are passionate about what you are presenting, they are human elements that not only bring the audience to like and understand you, but they make you real, and they make what you are saying much more genuine than bullet points.