Preparing a presentation for work is always a nerve-wracking experience. Public speaking and performance isn’t everybody’s strong suit; however, if you’re tasked with delivering vital information, training or even a sales pitch, you will need to put your best foot forward and give it your all. If the prospect of standing up in front of your colleagues fills you with dread, you may be eager to learn some tips and coping strategies for giving the best presentation possible; look no further and consider this guide to success.
Decide On Your Necessary Points
The success of a presentation depends on how well you prepare. Don’t be tempted to leave planning until the last minute, as your presentation may require numerous drafts, editing and practice before it is ready to be delivered. Start by identifying your key points and what you would like your audience to take away from your speech. As a rule of thumb, you should be able to condense your message down to a few straightforward sentences - also known as an “elevator summary” - to use as a starting point.
Keep Your Audience’s Attention
Consider your audience - who are they? Perhaps they are your colleagues, senior executives or clients. Construct your presentation with your audience in mind and use structure and language that will align with their needs and hold their attention. Furthermore, you will need to learn how to “read the room”, identifying whether or not your audience is engaged and actively listening. Avoid losing their attention by remaining energetic, upbeat and passionate about your topic.
Keep It Clear And Succinct
Avoid writing your presentation as if you’re trying to reach a minimum word count. Excess babble will make your speech seem unprofessional and tedious. Nobody wants to be stuck in a meeting room for any longer than necessary, so stick to the point and deliver your message in a way you would like to listen to if you were an audience member. Clarity is crucial, so speak audibly, intelligibly and repeat words and phrases where appropriate. While you shouldn’t drag your presentation out, try and avoid rushing, as this may give your words and overall message less significance.
Make Your Slides Easy To Read
More often than not, workplace presentations are accompanied by a slideshow using programs such as Microsoft Powerpoint and Adobe Express. You may create a slideshow purely for visual interest, artistic value, or to clarify and reinforce information. After your presentation, you might use email to send your slideshow to others to use as a resource. As such, your slideshow should be well put together, professional and easy to read.
Consider the 10-20-30 rule for slideshow presentations - no more than ten slides, no longer than twenty minutes and a minimum point size of 30.
Tackle Your Fear Of Public Speaking
If you have a fear of public speaking, also known as Glossophobia, a low-stakes work-based presentation is a perfect opportunity for you to tackle it. There are many methods of getting to grips with workplace anxiety. For example, you could practise mindfulness or even enrol on a presentation skills training course. Remember that you are not alone, as roughly 15% to 30% of the general population experience Glossophobia on some level, so it’s highly likely some of your colleagues are on an equal footing.
The Importance Of Body Language
When it comes to delivering a speech or presentation, body language can speak volumes. Many experienced public speakers advise standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and maintaining a relaxed yet upright, open posture throughout - this will help to increase your confidence and reduce breathlessness. Use hand gestures to emphasise important points and phrases and maintain eye contact with your audience to convey sincerity and credibility. You may feel the urge to fidget but avoid pacing up and down too much, as this can be distracting.
Your audience may not remember facts and figures, but they’ll likely remember an explanatory or illustrative story you told. While you should always avoid going off on unrelated tangents, sometimes, a well-placed story or anecdote can increase your relatability, making your audience feel more connected and engaged. Better yet, if an amusing anecdote is directly central to the subject at hand.