Presentation Knowledge Hub
Present Perfect: 10 Tips for Improving Your Presentation Skills
Presentations are a vital part of most businesses. We could all do with improving our presentation skills. We take a look at 10 great tips for doing just that.
People will do anything to get out of a business presentation.
According to a survey by Prezi, 20% of respondents said they would do almost anything to avoid giving a presentation. That includes pretending to be sick or asking a colleague to give the presentation, even if it means “losing respect” in the workplace.
But giving a presentation at work doesn’t have to be something you dread. In fact, it should be something you look forward to. An opportunity for your voice to be heard and to impress your boss.
To help you really nail your next big presentation, here are 10 great presentation skills tips that will really take your presentation to the next level.
1. Know Your Purpose
Before you even begin deciding how you’re going to give a great presentation, you need to decide why you’re giving a great presentation. By knowing the core purpose of your presentation, you’ll be able to design your presentation accordingly.
No matter if the reason and environment of the presentation are formal or informal, you should always give a clear, focused delivery. Are you presenting an argument? If this is the case, you want to make sure that your argument is obvious and clear from the very beginning.
Are you pitching an idea to investors? Then you want to have all the necessary material readily on hand, including the business plan and all your facts around the business finances. They’ll want to know you’ve done your homework before they even consider investing with you.
2. Don’t Read from a Text
It’s the ultimate problem in presentations, yet it’s one we see time and time again. It can be a screen, cue cards or a classic piece of paper; no matter what it is you don’t want your eyes glued to it during your presentation. Your eyes should be engaging with the audience.
A great way to avoid this problem is to have limited text available to you in the first place. A mind-map is one of our favorite ways to have not too much information for you to read, but still have all the ideas/topics you want to cover.
3. Know Your Material
This may sound obvious, but it’s so important, we couldn’t leave it out.
The presentation is a chance for you to display in the information in a fun, unique and natural way. If you aren’t properly prepared, you’ll be more focused on reading from a screen than actually engaging with your audience.
4. Engage with the Audience
Speaking of engaging with your audience – that’s a crucial step when it comes to how to improve presentation skills. As much as you are trying to present information to your audience, the communication going on should be a two-way street.
Asking the audience if they have any questions or what they think on a topic is a great way to get your audience actively engaged with your presentation.
5. Answer Questions As You Go
Some presenters will think this is a silly idea, but we think it’s crucial.
Allowing your audience to ask questions throughout the presentation is a great way to keep the presentation flowing. You want it to be more of a conversation, not a tedious lecture.
Questions from the audience is also a great sign that your audience is listening. Their questions will indicate if they’re following and understanding what you’re saying.
If you’re posed with a question and have no clue on the answer, just be honest. Comment on how great the question is and let them know that you’ll look into it and get back to them. They’ll appreciate the honesty.
6. Keep Your Slides Simple
Having too much information on your slides is a common problem of giving presentations. Remember that slides should enhance what you’re saying, not detract and distract from it. You want your audience’s attention to be on you, not trying to speed read everything on your slides.
Think about it this way – if you put everything you’re saying on the slides, there’ll be no point in you being there saying it!
As a rule of thumb, make the font size on your slides double the average age of your audience. If you’re having to squeeze more text on a slide, it means that you haven’t simplified the message enough.
7. Attend Other Presentations
Why make the same mistake that others have already made? Attending presentations by other professionals is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t. It doesn’t matter if it’s the best presentation you’ve ever been to or a total flop – you can learn something from each situation.
It also gives you the chance to act as the recipient of the presentation. While you listen to the presenter, take notes on what you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy. Are they speaking loud enough? Is the presentation engaging and interactive? Is the presentation too long or too short?
Audiences are like dogs – they can smell fear.
To distract them from your perpetual sweatiness and shaking hands, flash them your biggest, brightest smile. Even if it doesn’t put you at ease, it will put your audience at ease.
As the saying goes, fake it ’till you make it.
9. Join Toastmasters
No matter where you are in the world, there’s bound to be a Toastmasters near you. Toastmasters gives you the opportunity to really improve presentation skills in a safe, non-judgemental and friendly environment.
It’s also a great way to receive constructive criticisms and adjust your presentation accordingly before the big day.
10. Use Your Body
Using your body during a presentation is a great way to keep the audience interested. Instead of standing like a zombie in one place, walk around the room or stage and use your hands and arms to make big gestures. It’ll make you look like you have all the confidence in the world.
Improve Your Presentation Skills
We know that presenting can be a real struggle for some people, but with our top tips your fear of speaking in public will be a thing of the past. When it comes to improving your presentation skills, it boils down to two things – practice, preparation, and persistence.
If you’re going to be addressing a group of people, read our tips for presenting to a crowd. You’ll be presenting like a pro in no time.