“What if I won’t be able to say a single thing?“ – should the thought of giving a public presentation cause you to break a sweat, rest assured.You are not alone. Even the most experienced speakers still experience some form of jitters before taking the stage. They say that it actually makes them perform better. In your job, you are sure to be faced a lot of times with the task to give a presentation, be it in front of colleagues or an external audience. Read on to find out how you can master it.
The most important thing is knowing your subject. That’s the starting point of your research, during which you’ll gather as much data as needed. So far, so theoretical. Practically, the duration and extent of your research depend on your audience and the duration of your presentation – of course you’ll need more data for a 30-minute-speech compared to a 10-minute one. And an expert audience expects more depth than one composed of laymen. Whatever data you will use in your presentation, make sure one thing – that it’s always accurate.
Next up, you should check the technical aspects pf your location – most places will provide a screen and a projector, at the least. And there’s a good reason for that, too – in order to write down some ideas on a black- or whiteboard, you’d have to turn your back to the audience. But people will follow your word much better if you keep eye contact. Your ideas have another written form – thanks to your office software, they will be projected on the screen behind you in the form of slides. Be careful about creating and editing those slides – as a rule of thumb, keep them as simple as possible and don’t overstuff them with either too many unnecessary pictures and graphs, or too many different fonts and animations. They will only wear your audience out and take away their attention from your presentation. And you always want to grab and hold the audience’s attention. There are a few tricks for that:
1. Use a joke or a personal anecdote as your starting point and you’ll hook your audience right from the start. Starting with thanking them for being there doesn’t exactly show off your creativity.
2. Does it seem to you, that you are talking just a bit slower than you usually would have? Great, that means that you have found the perfect speaking rhythm for your audience. Speak up clearly, don’t forget to pause every now and then and modulate your voice. A monotone voice will put your audience to sleep.
3. Always give your audience good visual examples to underscore your points and to make rather abstract facts and figures palpable to them.
Studies show, nevertheless, that even the most engaging presentation will get tiresome at some point, as the audience’s interest level drops after roughly 45 minutes. That’s why your presentation should never exceed this time limit.