How to Crush any Presentation
Why should you care about public speaking?
It has been said that some people fear public speaking greater than death. Although it can be nerve wrecking at times, giving presentations is one of the easiest ways to propel one's career and create opportunities that would have otherwise been impossible. It is also a high income skill that employers are actively searching for at every organization. By following these tips and shifting one's attitude, the fear of public speaking will become a nightmare of the past.
Be excited, not nervous! The difference between the two feelings is derived from the level of preparation. One of the easiest ways to boost self-confidence and reduce anxiety is to know your stuff! Delivering a speech after completing thorough research and practice is equivalent to taking a test with all the answers. Suddenly, there's no more pressure and it's as easy as telling a story or talking to a friend. Remind yourself that you've earned the right to be speaking there.
Practice, practice, practice. It is strongly encouraged to speak out loud while preparing in order to make it as close to the real event as possible. Ensure that the technology required for the presentation works at the venue before you arrive. Get familiar with the medium you are using to deliver your presentation, complete test runs without it in case it does not work, and film/time yourself to get an audience perspective. Filming is a great way to point out any unnoticeable ticks or filler words that you may use. Become comfortable with silence during the presentation and leverage it to emphasize key points. Preparation is the single best way to diminish worries and nerves.
It is essential that the speaker brings energy to his or her event in order to retain the audience's attention and effectively deliver the message. One great way to seize the audience's concentration is to rely less on a slideshow and more on verbal content. PowerPoints are great at highlighting key points and graphics; they are NOT to be used as a script. In fact, using too many words and graphics detract from the main points of the message. The best speakers feed off the audience's energy and react accordingly.
Body Language and Physical Appearance:
Body language and appearance may arguably be the most important part of the presentation. Why is this the case? It is impossible to flawlessly execute the presentation with poor posture and body language. People also may discredit your information based on your image even if it is the best content in the world. For example, would you take someone seriously who is presenting on professionalism in the workplace if he or she was wearing sweatpants and a T-shirt? Most likely not. A good rule of thumb is to dress one level above the audience. For example, if everyone is dressing business casual, you may want to dress business professional.
Body Language Tips:
Chest and head up
Slight sway of shoulders
Eye contact with audience
Open stance rather than closed off
Facial expressions consistent with message
Hands by side without closing fists
Hand gestures should be above the elbows and away from the body (gestures should fit in a box approximately 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall)
Written by: Jim Toth