We all want to be good speakers. We all want to feel comfortable, look credible, and mostly, have people follow our advice when we speak. After all, the reason we make presentations is to change behaviours, attitudes, or beliefs. There is no magic to improving your presentations, just time, practice, and effort. All speakers, regardless of their abilities or level of nervousness, can improve if they follow these 4 steps.
- Make Time To Prepare – There is simply no way around this: it takes time to create a strong presentation. It is easy to procrastinate thinking that since you know your subject and will just be talking; you do not need to prepare. To have a strong presentation, you must allow adequate time to think, create visual aids and practice.
- Organize Your Presentation – A good presentation has a beginning, middle, and an end. It is clear to the audience where you are going and what you hope they will do when your presentation is done. Taking time to plan your talk ensures you will cover all the needed material while avoiding confusing (and irrelevant) side stories.
- Create Compelling Visuals – While it is easy to create text-heavy slides and bulleted lists, all they compel the audience to do is space out. Design your visuals so they show the audience in images the ideas they are hearing with your words. Slides are meant for two purposes: 1. They emphasize and reinforce your key points and 2. They remind the speaker of the key points one wishes to expand upon. However, all that you wish to share should not be written on your slides because your audience can read the text faster than you can speak it and they will disengage and get ahead of you.
- Involve Your Audience – Audiences want to be active participants in a conversation, not passive receivers of information. Engaging and involving the audience makes it easier for them to pay attention and retain information. Asking questions, eliciting comments, and dividing the audience into small discussion groups are great ways to engage the audience.
Your presentation will be more compelling, you will feel more comfortable, and look more credible if you are well prepared.
The net result of employing the four elements listed above is that you will feel more confident as a speaker and audiences equate that confidence with credibility. The more confidence you exude as a speaker, the more relaxed the audience will be, and the more they will listen to your words. Confidence alone is not enough to carry your talk, however, you still need to be organized, deliver your information well and have good subject matter expertise. In addition, it is a good idea to anticipate the questions that could arise so that you can be prepared with appropriate answers. Your presentation will be more compelling, you will feel more comfortable, and look more credible if you are well prepared. In addition, your audience is more likely to stay engaged and take the action you are suggesting. It is not magic, it is not rocket science, it is just four key ways you can improve your presentations and enjoy more success.