Tips for Improving Your Presentation Skills
Presenting an idea to an audience is one thing, but persuasively presenting a business plan to investors with the purpose to convince them to fund your venture is a whole other thing.
Few people master the skill to present to a room full of people successfully. It requires practice and more practice to feel comfortable with the public’s eyes focused on you. When running a business, you cannot escape presentation. For every new process, decision or operation, you need to hold meetings and present your ideas.
Presentations are part of most jobs nowadays, and you must be able to provide your public with informative content to attract their attention. Practising, improving and refining your aptitudes will make you more confident, and you’ll find it easier to integrate them into more areas, not only in the conference room.
If you want to improve your presentation skills, the following recommendations will definitely help you. So, let’s get started.
Practice speaking in front of other people
As with any other skill, practice makes perfect. It doesn’t matter how well you master the subject you’re talking about, if you lack experience, you’ll stumble in your discourse and find it challenging to engage and persuade your audience. This is a natural response, and everyone experiences it when they stand in front of a crowd for the first time. When all eyes are pointed in your direction, you feel anxious and forget your ideas.
Remember that the stress you experience results from your unfamiliarity with the setting and lack of preparedness. You’ll feel more comfortable if you practice speaking in front of other people. The more you take the stage and talk in front of other people, the less anxious you feel. Your confidence will grow because you’ll know that your presentation skills are good enough to capture people’s attention.
The best way to prepare for a presentation is to start small. Present your project or idea in front of your family, friends or co-workers, and you’ll feel less nervous when you’ll talk in front of investors. Practice makes you feel more comfortable with the attention you get during these events.
Use less text and more audio and visuals in your presentation
You’ve been there, sitting at a conference table trying to keep your interest and stay engaged with the presentation. But the amount of information and the way it was delivered made it challenging. The lack of images, audio, and colour can make a presentation horrible.
Why do presentations that rely solely on text fail to capture the public’s attention?
The minute you put a high block of text on the screen, your audience directs the attention away from your discourse and begins reading the information you provide. They tune you out and have no idea what you say. Also, when you have no presentation skills, the presentation sounds dull, and adding text can make it unbelievably dull.
But if you want to keep the public engaged while going from one slide to another, add some visual and audio elements into the presentation. Nowadays it’s quite easy to pick a template that provides beautiful visuals to support the text content. Instead of blocks of text, try to use charts and infographics because they summarise better the information you try to share with your listeners.
Adding music to the presentation can also make it enjoyable to people, your purpose is to make it easily understood by everyone, and music can help you capture people’s interest. Relating the text and images with the music makes the public connect with your audience. Almost all people like to hear music, and therefore background sound can help you hold their attention. Where do you find music suitable for a presentation? Online platforms like Melody Loops provide royalty-free music for business and other presentations. Check the collection to find a sound that sets the mood of your presentation.
Leverage your personality
Yes, it does sound like a cliche, but it’s essential to be true to who you are when you try to convince investors to provide you with funds or customers to buy your products. They need to sympathise with you and resonate with your ideas to support your business. Also, it’s quite easy to tell when someone is faking an attitude and discourse for the sake of their audience, so you shouldn’t pretend that you’re someone you’re not. Not only that you’ll look unnatural, but you will also risk your audience leaving the room. Don’t tell a joke if it’s forced in the context, and don’t try to be sarcastic if you’re not in your day-to-day life.
You should feel comfortable with who you are and use your personality as an advantage. If you’re known for your dark humour, use it to attract the public and throw a couple in their direction to keep them engaged.
Look around the room, smile a little, and be empathetic to create a connection with your public. Doing so makes you more likeable, encourages your public to be receptive to your discourse and enhances your presentation skills.
Encourage your audience to comment and ask questions during the presentation
Try to be flexible during the presentation and answer questions. You can use an audience response tool to help you organise the questions and respond to them as they come. Don’t worry if some comments or questions veer you off the script because people prefer interactive presentations rather than discourses. The chances are that if someone has a comment or question, they’re not the only ones in the room. Use this as an opportunity to get feedback from your public and understand if your presentation has the effect that you wish.
Also, take time, in the beginning, to ask some icebreaker questions to create a connection with the audience and slowly transition the discussion to the important subjects. Taking the time to talk with the audience is a good thing because it keeps them engaged. It’ll also help you relax because you’ll feel more confident answering their questions and showing them that you have excellent knowledge of the subject.
About the Author
Trevor Davis has a BA in Social Sciences and currently works as a corporate coach for a tech company. As a blogging aficionado, Trevor is passionate about sharing educational resources and helping professionals hone skills such as leadership, interpersonal communication, emotional intelligence, and problem solving.