Presentation Skills That Will Change Your Life
One of the most important skills any person can learn is how to present themselves to the world. This holds true whether you're attending a job interview, making a good first impression with a client, or assigning a project to your team.
While it may seem like the best speakers are naturally gifted in the art of speaking, that's not always the case. By learning and honing a few key self-presentation skills, you too can become an articulate and engaging speaker that people will enjoy listening to.
Here are eight self-presentation skills that can help you engage and educate your audience better.
1. Tell Engaging Stories
People love a good story. Stories invite listeners to empathize with you and engage in your message. A well-told story can also make complex topics relatable and easier to understand. According to one study, using stories to relay a message improves audience retention by 22 times more than purely data-driven facts.
When you're giving a presentation, find ways to incorporate stories into it. Weaving stories into your content helps listeners put themselves in the shoes of the presenter, making it easier for them to relate to your message.
2. Shift Anxiousness to Enthusiasm
The anxiety bug can affect anyone, even the most seasoned public speakers. The key to managing this stage fright is to channel it into positive energy. It may seem easier said than done, but there are techniques to help you manage those pre-presentation jitters!
On the day of the presentation, avoid eating greasy or sugary foods and eat light and healthy foods instead. Also, don’t forget to dress your best, care for your clothing, and accessorize too — no one wants to be lectured by someone who doesn’t dress well.
Moments before the presentation itself, take a few deep breaths. Instead of stressing about how your message will be received, envision the audience being interested and receptive to it. If you find a familiar friendly face, don't be afraid to direct your attention to that person. This will help calm you down and keep you focused on what you're about to say.
3. Chat with the Audience
When you're presenting to a new audience, it can be helpful to chat with them beforehand. This will put you at ease, help you gauge the level of knowledge of your audience, and give you a chance to develop rapport.
If time allows, try to arrive early and introduce yourself to a few people in the audience. If you're presenting virtually, send a quick email to your participants beforehand and introduce yourself.
In either case, talking to these people will help ground you and give you a better sense of who you're speaking to. The insights you can draw from this will help craft your message to better resonate with them.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
The importance of practice when it comes to public speaking can't be overstated.
Practicing your content out loud will help minimize those awkward moments of fumbling over what to say next or forgetting what you were going to say entirely.
When practicing, it's best to take advantage of your environment and what's made available to you. For example, consider recording yourself in a camera and hearing how you sound. Are you speaking too fast or too slow? Is your voice monotone? Are you using a lot of filler words?
You can also look at the mirror and assess how your body language is as you attempt to present your piece. Are you animated and expressive, or are you slumped over? Always remember that to be an engaging speaker, you need to look like one too!
5. Pause Intentionally
When you're speaking in public, it's easy to get caught up in the moment and rush through your content. But pauses have powerful psychological effects on your audience.
For one, pausing allows you to take a few deep breaths before continuing to speak. This can help you regain composure, collect your thoughts, and feel more in control.
Pauses also signal to the audience that you're in full control of the content and pace of your speech. This not only signals confidence, but it can also help build their trust in your message since they know that you're going to take them through the process step by step.
Pausing also allows space for your audience to absorb the information and ask questions if they have any. This allows you to further engage with them and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
6. Make Use of Visual Aids
No one likes reading large blocks of text. And when you're presenting in front of an audience, it's important to hold their attention. And what better way to do that than by using colorful visual aids?
Visual aids can be anything from PowerPoint slides to physical props. These visuals can help break up the monotony of your presentation and add another layer of depth for your audience to ponder over.
7. Leave Time for Q&A
At the end of your presentation, always leave time for questions and answers. This allows your audience to interact with you and clears up any confusion they may have about your message.
It also helps build rapport and trust as it shows that you're open to feedback and willing to engage in discussion. This opens the door for a more catered and value-adding discussion, warming the audience and incentivizing them to truly listen to you.
8. Know Your Call to Action
Think of a call to action (CTA) as a way to close your presentation on a high note. This is the part where you tell your audience what they need to do next, and how their involvement will help them reach their goals.
For example, if you're giving a presentation to government officials about the importance of investing in renewable energy, your CTA might be for them to pass a bill that gives tax incentives to companies who switch to this form of energy. For sales pitches or webinars, your CTA would be to have your audience buy your product or sign up for your service.