We often hear about the importance of having good presentation skills in life. But while for some, the idea of presentations seems exciting and a great way to communicate their thoughts – for others the idea of public speaking and presenting can understandably fill them with dread. It can be an utterly nerve wracking experience standing up in front of a crowd – no matter what the subject matter is. However, presenting skills are crucial in the art of communication, and particularly important when pitching for new business, training a team or if you are involved in public speaking.
To make sure you can communicate your message effectively – below are some sure fire ways to keep your jitters at bay and make your presentation stand out from the crowd.
This may sound blaringly obvious but all too often presenters assume they can either cram all their information into a PowerPoint slide or simply try to ‘wing it’ when they are up on stage. But while both of these approaches can work in theory – it won’t necessarily communicate your message effectively. Even the most knowledgeable subject matter experts can lose sight of what they want to say when in front of a crowd and this is why practice and preparation really does make perfect. This means you need to not only research your audience and tailor your speech to make sure they can understand it, but also ensure you know your presentation topic back to front and can articulate this in a clear manner. This way your insight will shine through to the audience and feeling prepared will help boost your confidence and calm any nerves.
Truth is we all get nervous. Even the most famous professional speakers and actors will at some point. In fact, the team at BlueSky recently had some great presentation training and learnt some new tips for the next time we are presenting. For example – focus on breathing slow and try picturing a gold thread pulling your head high and feet towards the floor, this will help keep you level headed and your posture upright so you can focus on your breathing and not jumbling through the presentation. You’ve prepared this brilliant speech so why rush your way through it? You want to communicate your message effectively and by controlling your breath will help to do so.
The not so great news? While it’s easy to get caught up on the word details – aka everything we want to say and all the information we have to share – unfortunately resting on this alone won’t guarantee audience engagement. According to a study by the UCLA, your words count for a mere 7% which means the non-verbal aspect of your presentation counts for the other 93%. It’s key to remember as soon as you walk into a room, you make an impression, so think about your body language and tone of voice. Communication is as much of a verbal activity as it is physical and the research seems to back this up!
‘Make a presentation fun?’ I hear you cry – but yes, there are a range of different tools to make presenting a less scary experience and something you’ll start to enjoy. Unfortunately, all too often when we think of presentations we tend to picture copious PowerPoint slides covered in words and there’s nothing worse than an unengaged and yawning audience. To prevent this happening, incorporate visuals – graphics, videos, and colours and make sure your slides only include the brief points. Also don’t forget they are there to listen to you, not to read off the slides – so use this as an opportunity to interact with the audience, ask them questions and answer theirs. Once you start to let go and have fun with presentations – you’ll be able to communicate your message effectively and realise your actually a pro after all!
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