Public speaking is fun for some but often a terrifying experience for many. As much as we can *usually* avoid broadcasting our thoughts to mass audiences, the majority of us will always have a presentation or two to perform in our lifetimes. Whether this be pitching a new marketing campaign to your co-workers, or a job interview presentation which you’ve had little time to prepare for, presentations are part of life. So we’re here to help with our top tips on How To Boss Your Presentation.
• Dress to impress
The way you look is often the basis on which people make their first impressions of you. Now we’re not saying you should have the full shebang from waistcoat to pocket handkerchief, but looking presentable is key to gaining the respect of your audience. This means; (without trying to sound too much like your Mother) wear crisp, ironed clothes, sort out that messy hair and polish your shoes to a standard even a police constable would be proud of.
• Be the audience
Now this might not make too much sense, but it’s important to put yourself in the mindset of the audience you’re presenting to. When writing or practising for your presentation, ask yourself: would I be bored listening to this? Does it all make sense? Can they hear me clearly? It’s easy to write a load of mumbo jumbo that makes sense to us because of course, it came from inside our own head. But to others, you could be speaking a different language, and knowing the difference between clearly explaining your ideas and patronising your audience is much needed. Grab one of your friends or family members and quickly run through your powerpoint with them, you’d be surprised at the amount of errors we inadvertently make while presenting.
• Prepare your voice
There’s nothing worse than having a conversation with someone and feeling your voice getting weaker and weaker as you continue your sentence. Not nice. Now imagine that, but in front of a room consisting of 5 to 500 people – scary? We do know that you can’t always be in control of your health, especially when it comes to your throat, but there are precautions you can take to soothe and enrich your voice. Drink plenty of water, use Vocalzone pastilles when needed (pick your flavour of choice- they’re all beneficial), avoid using extreme vocal ranges- e.g screaming or whispering, avoid talking in noisy places, and the list goes on. For more detailed tips on vocal care, check out our article on Preparing Your Voice For A Speech!
• Slow it down
We’re not talking a slow motion, robotic voice that will send everyone (yourself included) to sleep, but just remember to take a breather every now and then. When we’re nervous, it’s natural to speed up the flow of speaking and aim to finish off the presentation as quickly as possible- even if we do this subconsciously. But this can affect your presentation negatively and make you out to be very inexperienced. Not only this, rushing through your slides defies the point of the presentation; you want to be certain your audience is clinging onto your every word and your key points are resonating with them. So be prepared for the nerves to kick in on the day, this is normal, but don’t allow your nerves to dictate the speed of your voice.
• Choose visuals wisely
Nobody wants to stare at what looks like a novel in the form of a presentation for 20 minutes, so remember to always keep your slides short and concise. Remembering the 10-20-30 rule can help you succeed massively and put your points across without boring the audience to death. For those of you unfamiliar with this rule, it simply consists of your presentation being; a maximum of 10 slides long, lasting no longer than 20 minutes and your text being projected in no less than size 30 font. This helps you convey your points quickly to the audience, without making them read between the lines- presentations can be dull enough, never mind having to sit through an eternity of text after text after text…you get the point.
• Smile and wave boys
Well, not literally. But it’s important to remember to continuously smile and make eye contact with your audience. Staring/reading straight off your slides can come across as extremely unprofessional and can make your audience lose interest fairly quickly. We’re not saying that you should stand there and smile at your audience the whole time like a maniac, but scanning the room to make eye contact with different people and looking like you’re enjoying yourself can comfort the audience and make your presentation flow. This will also place confidence in the audience as it makes them aware that you’re the right person to listen to. By owning the presentation and performing it with confidence, you are building rapport and not showing the nerves that may be killing you on the inside.