Professional marketers, salespeople and other presenters have one thing in common; they know how to wow an audience. They can put a fresh, interesting spin on a dry, technical topic and send the audience back out into the world with a new, exciting perspective. Successful presentations rely on more than a quality product and a subject matter expert. They require a good speaker to deliver the message, which is often difficult because most people are terrified of public speaking. If the thought of presenting your project or idea gives you anxiety, here are some tips for giving successful demonstrations without sweating through your shirt.
Prepare Your Mind and Body
Caring for yourself is of utmost importance ahead of such an important event in your career. Focus on the following aspects of your own health to ensure your ability to effectively communicate your ideas.
Self-affirmations: Think positively and tell yourself how capable and prepared you are for your presentation.
Fuel: You won’t deliver a great performance if your stomach is growling and you feel lightheaded because you were too nervous to eat breakfast.
Sleep: Get a full 8 hours of deep, restful sleep the night before your demonstration so you won’t feel groggy and distracted when answering questions.
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Tell a Captivating Story
Regardless of the idea you’re selling, if you want to give a successful presentation, you’ll need to capture attention right away. The technical elements of your product may be fascinating to you, but unless you want to see eyes glaze over right in front of you, don’t start with facts and statistics. There’s no better way to connect with people than to tell a relatable personal story that imparts meaning and instills trust between you and your audience. An effective speech will engage others both mentally and emotionally.
Consider Your Audience
When creating your presentation, think about the people you will be addressing. Not everyone learns and interacts the same way. Consider the fact that the crowd will be made up of extroverts and introverts, and you’ll need to accommodate both with a balance of speech and engaging activities. Too much interaction will stress some while too much lecture will bore others.
Customize the Template
Carefully consider the visual aspects of your demonstration. If you bring a stock template into the conference center, your audience will notice, and they may make assumptions about your aptitude for creativity. Don’t be afraid to alter a template or create your own. Play around with fonts, colors, embedded videos and graphics until the visual enhances the narrative you want to convey. Once you’ve applied all of the relative qualitative and quantitative data, manipulating the aesthetic is a simple way to add impact and deliver your points with a little extra punch.
Make a Storyboard
You want your talk to be engaging, but also logical and cohesive. Just as you wouldn’t start writing a research paper without an outline, don’t write a speech or make presentation slides without a storyboard to manage the flow of your narrative. You’ll be able to control the framework by placing your introduction, main points, subpoints and final thoughts in the preferred order before you build your final draft.
Keep It Simple
Many experts feel the need to showcase their knowledge by overexplaining specific topics, which doesn’t work because the human brain needs time to process new information. The most effective presenters are focused and succinct. Keep this in mind when designing your presentation, and assume your audience has a short attention span. Stick to your top three points, don’t ramble and try not to divert into tangents.
Don’t Try to Be Perfect
Your listeners need you to be interesting, not flawless. Perfectionism is as much of a weakness as it is a strength, and it can ruin your experience as a presenter. Do your best to make sure the audience understands and appreciates your message, and don’t dwell on what you could have done better. Just focus on them, and don’t worry so much about being perfect.
You may never get over the anxiety that the spotlight brings, but when trying to manage your nerves, you can increase your comfort and confidence by conducting your own rehearsals ahead of your big presentation. Practice your verbal as well as your non-verbal communication, like smiling, hand gestures and eye contact in front of a mirror, or record yourself and play it back to examine your performance. Get feedback from a friend or coworker and consider suggestions that will make your talk better.
Practicing your public speaking and presentation skills is the key to building your confidence and delivering your message with style. Through preparation and experience, you’ll hone your public speaking skills and wow every crowd you face.