A great workplace presentation can help you to stand out as an employee to watch and in an external setting represents the company well and impacts its reputation. Although many people dread giving presentations – or public speaking of any kind – with the right focus and preparation a presentation can be both enjoyable and successful. To be successful, it needs to impact the audience in some way so they know something different, think something different and/or act differently. Below are just some of the key elements people need to focus on.
Focus on your audience
What often makes us nervous is when we think only about our own experience of the presentation – it may be easier to relax if you focus on your audience instead.
- What do you want the audience to get from the presentation? Focus on their needs when you’re preparing.
- Be honest with your audience and let your passion shine through. If you’re enthusiastic and open, they will respond positively.
- When you’re presenting, focus on the audience response and react to that, as opposed to how you feel.
What’s the main message?
You should be able to sum up the core message of your presentation in 30 seconds. Build on that to illustrate and evaluate but avoid adding anything that doesn’t contribute to the core message. Keep it concise and stay on topic if you want your presentation to be truly effective.
Find the story in your presentation
Storytelling is a powerful method of communication and one that will draw people in and help them to engage with what you’re saying. There is a story in almost anything; you just need to find it. You can find the story by looking at the ‘characters’ i.e. the people involved and making them your focus, as well as evaluating the dynamic of your story – what changed in a specific situation to trigger a certain behaviour or result?
Organise your slides
According to Guy Kawasaki of Apple, your presentation should be limited to 10 slides max, stick to a 20 minute time limit and present points in a font size of no less than 30 point. This is the 10-20-30 rule that apparently helps to avoid ‘Death by PowerPoint’. Remember that your slides are for the audience and you should be able to make your presentation with or without them.
The way that you speak will have an impact on how well your message comes across and you may need to practice in order to get that right. You can use tactics such as varying the speed and tone of your voice to maintain audience interest and to emphasise the parts of the presentation that you think are the most important.
You need to grab your audience’s attention from the start, so open with something that will make them sit up and take notice.
Body language is important
Maintaining eye contact with your audience will ensure a feeling of connection and the odd smile will help your audience feel more open to what you’re saying. More than three quarters of communication is non-verbal, so a lot of what you convey will come from how you hold yourself – open gestures, easy movement and avoiding crossed arms or hands in pockets are key.
Relax and breathe
Breathing is incredibly important to presentation delivery, so make sure you’re breathing slowly and fully and giving yourself time to pause. Stay calm and find ways to enjoy your presentation – it will be stronger as a result.
How good are you at presenting? How many effective presenters does your business have? For more advice about building these skills, get in touch with Joanna Gaudoin.
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