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Presentation tips: how to be an effective presenter

3 Feb 2020
Gordon Johnstone

presentation tips

Public speaking doesn't come naturally to everyone. In fact, it can strike fear into the hearts of many people at the mere mention of standing in front of people and delivering a presentation. Luckily, it doesn't have to come naturally - it's a skill that can be learned.

Slowly but surely

Trick number one; slow down. The key to being a good presenter isn't to be the fastest, it's about conveying a message that's going to deliver an outcome – be it to land a new job, work with a new client, or impart wisdom to your audience. A good presenter leaves with their audience feeling enlightened, inspired and motivated. A bad presenter will turn their audience's attention towards the exit. If you're not a natural speaker you may rush to get the experience over with  or lose focus of the message as the adrenaline gets the better of you. A nervous presenter is likely to rush and speak for the sake of speaking which has no impact at all. If you want to succeed at presenting, you're going to need to practice. 

Social butterflies

If you're on social media, use it to your advantage. Tell your audience at the beginning of your presentation where they can find you online and how they can interact with you throughout, and after the talk. When you're delivering a knock out presentation, there's nothing better than a room full of people tweeting about how great it is. Make sure to tell them what your handle is and include a specific hashtag if you're using one for an event.

Death by PowerPoint

If your slides are full of text, your audience is not listening to you - they're reading. Less is more when it comes to presentation slides and, unless you've got a side hustle as a designer, keep it as simple as possible. Ideally you want to turn

  Verbose presentation

into this

Simple Slides

You don't need a slide trandisions or clever tricks. Start off by moving the bulk of the text you have on your slides into your presentation notes. The slides are a visual guide; keep them simple and let your audience focus on you.

The human touch

This tip could be called "be personable", but that's a bit of a nothing-ey phrase that's often used with no real context. What's important to think about when practicing and designing your presentation is whether or not you're making any kind of emotional impact. Unless you're presenting to a room full of robots (if you are that's pretty cool and you probably don't need our help), you're going to need to appeal to people's emotions. Hold off on the sales pitch and empathise with your audience - what do they want to hear you say? What are their problems? Try to relate to them and, through your content, answer any questions or concerns they may have. If you build a rapport with your audience your presentation will leave a lasting positive impact.

Know your audience

Not all presentations are fun. Actually, I think we're pretty safe in saying that most of them are pretty serious affairs, bordering on dull. If you are going to take anything away from this article, please make it this: be aware of what the dry or "boring" aspects of your presentation and consider how to make the information easier to absorb. Include a statistic, metric or one liner to keep your audience's attention. If it's appropriate and you're comfortable doing it, maybe throw in a joke or two. By keeping the information short, sharp and succinct it will make the dull stuff much more interesting.

If your presentation is too salesy or technical your audience (unless they too are salesy or technical) will be bored. Who is the presentation for – you, or the people sitting in front of you?

If you feel positive and relaxed after the presentation, then you're likely to have just delivered a knockout. If you're exasperated and glad it's over, then you're audience will probably feel the same!

Great presenters and orators are people who have practiced - you can be one of them with a bit of work. Get in touch if you feel like the time has come for a new adventure and you'd like to talk to one of our consultants about a new role.

Author

Gordon Johnstone
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