We all have been through terrible presentations. Now remember those terrible presentations and put yourself in the presenters’ shoes. Are you better than they are? Public speaking is a common fear and not always as easy as the pros make it look. But don’t be nervous, below I will share with you 11 tips to improve your presentation skills.
Keep It Simple
Tell the audience what you’re going to tell them.
Tell them what you told them.
Practice and Prepare
The chances are that your boss told you to fill in and present in their place and you don’t have time to practice your presentation – make time. Prepare, know your content so you can speak to the audience and not at the screen or monitor like a PowerPoint ‘see and say’. Those are the worst. Never ‘wing’ a presentation, it won’t go well.
If you are new at presenting, have someone watch you and note areas you can improve. You also can record yourself and wince at your mistakes. Better to get those out of the way before the big day.
Create a Pre-Presentation Routine
Routines make us comfortable like a warm blanket and kittens. Put together your own pre-presentation routine to get comfortable before you present. Walkthrough the presentation to work out the final kinks if need be, but remember to breathe, smile, and relax.
Nothing is worse than showing up late to your own funeral – which is what it will feel like if you are late to your own presentation. If you’re late to your own online presentation you might as well update your resume. Nobody likes to wait. Respect your audience and start on-time and be ready early. If 2020 has taught us anything it’s to expect the unexpected. Don’t let something tank your presentation before it starts and be early to tackle anything that happens.
Know Your Audience
Avoid using jargon and acronyms your audience has never heard of just to sound smart – you’re not. Use relatable examples they can understand and don’t bore them.
Stop Using Filler Words
Filler words will kill your presentation and tank your audiences’ attention. Filler words are classics we all hate, ‘umm, kinda, sorta, you know, like…’. This is a presenters’ number 1 challenge – how to keep the presentation flowing without sounding like this is your first presentation.
Here are some great tips to stop using filler words:
- Replace filler words with pauses
- Get comfortable with silence
- When you practice, practice louder so you can hear your filler words.
- When you practice, replace filler word with ‘pause’ or ‘period’.
- When presenting, say ‘pause’ or ‘period’ in your head to replace filler word
- Record yourself presenting and count the filler words
We think faster than we talk, but when we present, we do our best to talk as fast as we think and that’s a problem. We all do it when we are nervous so don’t beat yourself up over it, I really need to improve in this area myself. Remember to pause, breathe, smile, and keep going. Slowing down gives us time to focus and to breath – two really important things to do when presenting.
Don’t Read the Slides
You put together the presentation which means you know the content. Reading the slides insults your audience, loses their interest, and is a terrible way to present. To make the presentation better, share the key takeaway or main point from each slide in your own words, and then read that one portion of the slide that drives your point home.
Use the Power of Repetition
Repeating key points throughout your presentation helps reinforce your key messaging and makes your presentation more memorable. When you present, you are telling a story and throughout that story, you hit key milestones that communicate the topic of your presentation. There is a reason we see the same ads on TV or on the radio. Repeat the good stuff to be remembered.
Demonstrate Proper Body Language
In the day of Zoom, this tip is critical. You’re on camera in your home and how you present yourself matters. How you present yourself matters! Slumped over a keyboard or not having a camera on, showing you are not engaged are all failures in our world of online presentations. When you sit up straight it gives you confidence and makes you a better presenter. When presenting in person, likewise, have good posture and use voice inflection to emphasize key points.
Never Run Over Your Allotted Presentation Time
You practiced and know how much time you need. Make sure you leave enough time at the end for Q&A. If this is a recurring meeting or presentation, you don’t want to schedule another meeting because you ran out of time.
Watch Other Presentations
Presenting is not easy but you can learn a lot by watching other presentations. It will give you an opportunity to note what you can improve as well as incorporate it into your presentations. Being a good presenter is a journey and we all can improve if we look to continually approve our skills.