Throughout your career, you are likely to deliver presentations many times: to your colleagues, boss, clients, or even directors and stakeholders. The audience will expect you to articulate clearly, deliver your ideas persuasively, and speak in an engaging, confident manner. On the flip side, the survey conducted by Sunday Times revealed that 41% of respondents named public speaking as their biggest fear. If this sounds like you, keep in mind that you can improve the situation through practice. We’ve collected the 5 tried-and-true ways to strengthen your presentation skills.
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5 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills
1. Preparation Makes Perfect
It’s hardly possible to deliver a good presentation without a thorough preparation. This includes not only the preparation of slides, but also a clear understanding of the structure of your speech and its main accents. Ask yourself: who is my speech intended for? what are the main messages I want to convey? Also, don’t forget about potential questions your audience might have. Create a small FAQ for yourself with answers to the most popular questions on the topic.
Last but not least, if the situation is not too formal, consider adding gifs or short videos to the presentation to defuse the situation.
2. Practice Long Before Your First Public Speech
Rehearse delivery of a presentation at home, practice answering various questions, and consider possible force majeure (such as the loss of picture, sound, or interruption in the middle of the speech). It’s best to practice with other people, for example, a few friends. Ask them to notice your mistakes, slips of the tongue, hiccups, and poor body language. Or, they may act in a confusing and deliberately distracting way. The more you practice before an actual performance, the more prepared you will be for all sorts of surprises and the better you will get in public speaking.
3. Choose a Few Listeners and Focus Your Eye on Them
Instead of scanning dozens or hundreds of listeners with your eyes, pick a few people in the audience that you like most, and look at them as you speak. How does it help? It’s much easier for you to feel relaxed when speaking to a few listeners rather than an entire audience. It becomes more like a conversation, rather than an official presentation.
Besides relaxing, making eye contact also makes your presentation a more engaging process for you, for the people you are actually looking at, and for other participants.
4. Use Your Body Language
The words you use to convey the core message are important. Yet, often the non-verbal cues play an equally important role in how your audience perceives you. Don’t start talking once you get on the stage. Walk purposefully to the spot on the stage where you will be giving a presentation, take a stable pose, and start talking. Avoid tiny movements of nervousness when gesturing as they show others that you’re insecure.
To get inspired, watch how the best TED speakers perform. They actively gesticulate and move around the stage a lot. If you do the same, this will make you look more confident.
5. Use The So-Called “10-20-30 Rule” for Presentations
This rule was first suggested by Apple, which is known worldwide for its attractive presentations. According to it, your presentation should be no longer than 10 slides, and the speech has to take no more than 20 minutes. At the same time, font size at each slide should be no less than 30 points.
You can rely on these principles if no other guidelines are applied. Their goal is to make the presentation concise so as not to bore the readers. And the latter point about large font size prevents from overloading the slides with too much information.
Use an Effective and Engaging Resume to Present Yourself to the Future Employers
You’ve probably heard the idea that you’re only as good for the hiring managers as your resume is. No matter if your desired job involves delivery or presentations and public speaking, the resume has to be up to scratch and free from mistakes to get you hired in a competitive job market.
If you’re not sure about the quality of your resume, consider getting professional resume help.
*Photos by Christina Morillo