15 Not-So-Obvious Tips To Smash Your Next Presentation

You listen to podcasts, watch TED talks, and indulge in numerous presentations and seminars at work, hoping to pick up useful lessons and tricks.

Have you created your own internal list of what makes a speaker or presenter stand out?

While expertise, talent, and experience are supportive attributes, there is more to the art of presenting. Today we’ll discuss some of the not-so-obvious skills and practices that can take your presentation to the next level.

1. Plan it on paper

Tap into your creativity while you plan your speech or presentation.  Rather than opening a word doc, put the information down on paper.

2. Use a mirror

To make sure your slides are appearing in expected sequence, you need to know what’s on the screen without looking back every few minutes. Place a mirror projector at the back of the room or a rear-view mirror in front of you.

3. Entertain

Inject humour and add interesting anecdotes and relevant experiences into your presentation. Stop using a surgeon-like precision in your speech, but play psychologist for the duration, and tap into your audience’s emotions.

4. Think LIKE yOUR Audience

Whatever you do up on stage, think about it from the audience’s perspective. It is easy, when planning a presentation, to focus on the things that you want to talk about or the message you want to impart, but integral to this is considering what messages they would want to receive and what they want to hear.

5. Get OuTside Help

Being a great presenter does not make necessarily mean you are a great designer. Enlist the help of professionals (designers or websites -such as SlideBot – to create your presentation for you with the eye of a designer. Also, if its inspiration you are after, look through some of the top websites on SlideShare to find that lightbulb moment). If plotting and structure are not your forte, use an expert to help you articulate your ideas into words.

6. pace your voice

If you have the habit of speaking staccato, learn to vary your pace and modulate your voice. Use your pitch effectively to emphasis certain points at certain moments. Record yourself and listen to it back again to allow yourself to be sitting in the audience’s shoes.

7. Ignore gestures

This works both ways. Avoid overly exaggerated gestures that distract listeners and takes away focus from your speech. On the other hand, if you are uncomfortable or nervous and your hands are shaking, incorporating slight hand gestures can be a life-saver.

8. Imitation sucks

You may be tempted to adopt the style of your favourite speakers. While hero worship has its place, your presentation is not where you show it. Be original and the audience will embrace you, flaws and all.

9.  Kiss works

Keep your slides simple and to the point. Follow this pattern in your speeches too. Don’t blabber on or go off-tangent. Respect your audience’s time and they will respect your words.

10. Seek out YOUR audience

An active and attentive audience is the key to a successful presentation. Engage with them where you can and use eye contact as a way of keeping their attention.

11. KEEP THE 5 MINUTE RULE IN MIND

The overwhelming majority of people who give public speeches feel anxious going into it – starting is the hardest part! However, those anxieties seem to abate on a linear scale over the course of 5 minutes from the start of the presentation. So, if you’re nervous, just remember that in 5 minutes time you will have eased into the role and will feel a lot more comfortable on the stage.

12. MEET YOUR AUDIENCE

Come in early and interact with a few members of the audience. This will enable audience participation later on. This rapport will also help you face disruptive members and garner support.

13. Summarise

Most presenters wrap up their speech or slideshow without following it through to the logical conclusion – the summary. Help your audience recollect the presentation with a short recap of key points and follow up. Use different language than was used the first time so as you’re not rehashing the exact same content, but emphasize the key words or phrases verbatim to help recall.

14. Handouts

Your slides may be succinct and adequate, but will remain a support system for your original message. Without handouts, 2/3 of your audience will forget what they heard or saw, once they leave the room.

15. PractiCe

They say you need to write 100,000 words to call yourself a writer. Whilst you don’t have such rigid standards as a presenter, the underlying message here is constant practice. Practice your speech as often as you can, preferably in front of others.

How many of these presentations skills do you possess? Share your tips with us.