It isn’t uncommon for people to go into panic mode when they learn they have to give a presentation, with public speaking being one of the greatest fears of the human race.
There are plenty of simple tips and tricks that can help the inexperienced speaker make their presentation a success. The most common include pointers on body language, structuring content and how to use visual aids such as PowerPoint.
There are a few tips however, one might not consider as a new presenter but are extremely useful.
Prepare but don’t over prepare.
Being prepared for a presentation is absolutely vital. Not only being familiar with content but physically practicing the presentation out loud. Talking through what you are going to say to an empty room, can help you effectively verbalise ideas and build confidence.
There is a danger however in over preparing as being too rehearsed can make you inflexible. If you are relying on memorising a script and someone asks an unexpected question, it can be difficult to respond naturally without becoming flustered and thrown off track. The key is to be prepared with key points and overall structure but not to the point it makes you rigid.
Don’t try to be funny.
Everyone likes to think they can make the audience laugh by telling the odd joke however, this can often go wrong. There is nothing worse than laughing at your own joke but the rest of the room is staring at you wondering and waiting.
If it’s appropriate, tell a story or use an analogy, which can sometimes lighten the mood. This can also help you as the presenter seem more personable and relatable.
Don’t just talk, ask.
Rather than talking at people, ask questions of the group to show your interest in them. Do this early in your presentation to encourage engagement and be sure to involve the audience at regular intervals.
A word of caution; avoid asking questions that could provide controversial responses that you are not prepared to discuss or address. Any comment or response you ask for, must be acknowledged. Prepare in advance the questions you will ask, how you will ask them and at what point. Even requesting a show of hands can make a presentation seem less of a lecture.
One last tip is to understand that nerves are completely normal. Even experienced presenters feel some form of nerves however, some learn to channel these nerves into energy or passion in their topic. The audience has no idea what is going on inside of your head. You might be a bundle of nerves on the inside but what they see is a confident, calm and in control presenter.