As a university student, I’ve been to countless number of presentations with some being memorable while others forgettable. Typically, the audience may already understand the topic at hand but would like to know more. Hence, when you’re the presenter, it’s your job to captivate the audience. To become a skilled presenter, you’ll need to master public speaking, get rid of stage fright, and have good communication skills. Presenting can be a nerve-wracking experience which can trigger you to be nervous, anxious, or even nauseous. In fact, I used to dread the thought of doing presentations as well and only did them when it was necessary.
However, I managed to overcome my fear after putting in a lot of time, effort, and preparations to develop the key skills to perfect my presentations. So, here are some of my secrets for an effective presentation!
Firstly, confidence is key when conducting a presentation. A confident presenter commands and pulls in the attention from the audience with their good energy. By being confident, you’ll also be in a more relaxed state before and during the presentation which prevents you from errors like stuttering, saying something wrongly, or simply distracted.
You should also make a good impression by dressing smart and presentable for the occasion. After all, your appearance says a lot about your personality and confidence.
There are a few things you can do to bring out your confidence before your presentation such as giving yourself some positive affirmations, striking a power pose, and taking deep breaths.
You should keep in mind that your audience is there to learn from you and hence it’s important for you to deliver your topic sufficiently and efficiently. Don’t overload your slides with too many words or with too much info which your audience wouldn’t be able to grasp. Keep them short and simple.
Creative visuals like images, infographics, and easy-to-read charts (eg. pie charts, bar graphs) are also extremely effective ways to maintain your audience’s attention. The flow of your slides should also be coherent so that it’s easy to follow — nobody likes messy slides!
Don’t be a passive presenter. Engage with your audience. Bombarding them with too much cold facts and info will just bore the audience. It’s up to you to make it fun and interesting! Think of different ways you can engage. Personally, I enjoy sharing my real-life experiences that’s relevant to the topic when possible and even going the extra mile to humour my audience. It makes you likeable and as a result, they’ll be more connected and will pay attention to what you have to say.
Don’t forget to hold a Question and Answer session at the end of your presentation to answer any queries your audience may have.
The use of right body language also plays a vital role to connect with your audience. For example, the tone of your voice, depending on your pitch and tone, can help you effectively stress certain key points that’s important for your audience to grasp. In fact, pausing after an important point works too.
However, the emphasis of an important point isn’t only limited to the use of your voice, but hand gestures as well such as, counting with your hands when listing points, pointing at a particular someone to get their attention, and so much more. After all, there are more than 465 hand gestures you can utilise to express yourself. However, keep in mind to not use it repetitively for each and every point otherwise it defeats the purpose and just appears silly.
Through proper body language, you can project confidence by smiling, standing tall and looking straight ahead at your audience. Also, don’t sway your body!
Finally, the most important tip of all is to have a long, hard practice before the actual presentation. Doing a practice run can help you be more prepared before the real deal and very much reduce your tension on the day itself. This way you can avoid reading directly from the slides and face your audience instead. This doesn’t mean that you should memorise the entire slides but rather understand your topic thoroughly through research. As you practise more and more, you’ll be able to present comfortably when the time comes.
You can practise in front of a mirror or even with your friends or family who can provide you valuable feedback to refine your presentation. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect and will allow you to present with ease when the moment arrives.
I hope these tips will help you to be a great presenter. You can also improve your skills by watching world-class presenters who present at TED Talks or even stand-up comedians, like local comedian Harith Iskadar, to learn a thing or two. Presenting may seem hard at first but, in reality, it’s a breeze once you get the hang of it. I enjoy conducting presentations as I realise that through it, I’ve the power to influence, persuade, and inform others about a specific topic while helping others gain knowledge which makes me feel good about myself. All in all, I hope you find these tips beneficial and when the time comes, you’ll be able to shine.
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