No matter what you do well, no one will hear your message or appreciate your knowledge if you are no good at presentations and public speaking; what’s more, most companies expect their employees to be natural masters of public speaking and those who are not can see themselves being overlooked.
1. Rehearse out loud
When we write and rehearse our presentations, we often only read them through in our heads. This is totally illogical – your voice sounds fine in your head because you are imaging it and you will never mispronounce a word in your head. Finding a room or heading outside and talking the whole presentation through is the only way to prepare.
2. Be an attention grabber
The most important part of your presentation is the first 30 seconds. Right off the bat, summarise your presentation and tell the audience what they are about to learn, but without giving away the ending. This will keep people tuned in.
3. Make sure your presentation has structure
An audience likes to know where they are going and they do not want their time wasted. Make sure you create a clear and coherent structure to your presentation and never cover the same ground twice.
4. Don’t apologise, but don’t be arrogant
If you make a mistake, fluff your lines or mispronounce a word, don’t apologise, as this will dampen your authority. You can recognise a significant mistake and move past it by saying “That didn’t come out right” or “Let’s try that again”.
5. Use humour
A single funny story related to the topic can be the difference between a memorable presentation and one consigned to the office meeting rubbish bin.
6. Don’t be afraid to pause
Too many of us, whether through nerves or a sense of efficiency, do not pause enough in our presentations. Pauses enable you to prepare for the next section of your presentation and allow your audience to think about what they have just heard.
7. Prepare for tumbleweeds
If you forget where you were or your next point, don’t just stand there thumbing your notes; instead, take a sip of water. If you get sidelined by a question, ask the audience where you were before the question and frame it humorously as a quiz to see whether they were paying attention.
8. Don’t be put off by unsmiling faces
Don’t assume your listeners are bored just because they are frowning or looking at their phones. Everyone multi-tasks these days and people only smile at a speaker if they are thinking of themselves and your perception of them rather than your presentation.
9. Use your stage
Move around up stage, down stage, left and right. Moving about helps people to stay engaged and helps to keep your breathing steady.
10. Don’t rush
It’s not a race, it’s a presentation. Speaking at a rate slightly slower than everyday conversational talking will help to prevent mistakes and give your audience time to consider your words.
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