Ultimate Learning Guide To Improving Your Presentation Skills
While delivering a presentation, you’re the focal point (you should be) and you’re basically presenting your entire self in front of your audience: your body language, vocal skills, intellectual skills and capability, quality of content, level of confidence, etcetera. Your ability to connect effectively and confidently with your audience is tested and is ultimately reflected in the way the audience responds.
The mention of confidence, connection and the audience is bound to make many out there uneasy as not all of us are comfortable with exposure or being in the spotlight; not all of us possess quality presentation skills. Not to worry! After you go through this guide and follow it, we assure you that you will learn to present yourself & your content in a better way in no time and even gain the confidence you have always desired to have! Preparation is a key factor and we are going to help you prepare with the following steps!
Step 1: Lay Out Your Presentation’s Objectives and Goals
Keeping the ultimate goal in your mind throughout while preparing for your presentation will most definitely give you a sense of direction and help you stay focused. Defined objectives and goals will also help you in serving the primary purpose of the whole presentation and capturing your audience’s attention. Goals vary depending on the intent and nature of the delivering party. Nevertheless, below are three of the most common ones in the (generally) business world:
- Motivate and Inspire
- Convince and Persuade
- Educate and Inform
Moreover, your predefined goals will also aid you in developing a suitable call to action which stays in-line with the ultimate objective.
Note: Calls to action will vary depending on your personalized goal.
Step 2: Study your Audience and Plan Content & Deliverance Accordingly
The whole purpose and success of your presentation revolves your audience. Your presentation skills need to be up to the mark in order for you to deliver captivatingly. When planning content for your presentation, it is also imperative for you to know WHO your audience is and WHAT it expects of you.
Tailor-making your content and talk while keeping your prospective audience in mind is what’ll get you through to it, allow you to develop a much-needed connection and ultimately enhance your presentation skills greatly. Ask yourself the following key questions (and other relevant ones you can think of) during the process of your presentation’s development.
What similarities do you have with these people?
Knowing these will enable you to talk about your subject more comfortably and enjoyably as the common ground will allow you to speak naturally.
What is the gender ratio?
Knowledge about the diversity of your audience’s genders will help you in respecting all genders and avoiding gender-related, controversial statements during your presentation.
How is your presentation supposed to benefit them?
Make it a point to portray your valuable ideas, products or services in a positive light. This is a vital aspect as the claimed benefit(s) can be emphasized on time after time by relating them to the existing problems the audience is facing and can, hence, enable better targeting.
Do they have any prior knowledge about your subject?
If your audience has no clue about your subject, spare them the technical jargon and switch to simple and easy to understand English. This will give off a positive impression about your thoughtfulness and awareness of ‘your people’!
Step 3: Start Preparing your Content and/or Presentation Slides
Once you have a clear direction and a comprehensive understanding of your audience, you are ready to start working on the content you will be presenting vocally and visually. If you really want to learn to present effectively, make sure that you do not slack off while executing this crucial step. Go about it this way:
Thanks to the Internet and the global community it has birthed over the years, information from all around the world is readily available over the web. Make use of it to the fullest! Educate yourself as much as you can about the subject you are planning on presenting.
Sufficient knowledge will enable you to speak more fluently and even improvise in case you make any errors on the final day!
Create your speech’s outline and write out the speech
A speech outline will guide you and provide you with a clear view of how your presentation is supposed to flow smoothly, staying inside the allotted time-frame.
Try to make your speech’s introduction as captivating as possible because this is the time your audience is going to decide whether you’re ‘worth their time’ or not. Provide them with a comprehensive and relatable intro to indulge them and pique their interest.
For a presentation, less is more (mostly). Your speech’s main body should not comprise of boring and monotonous sentences; try to make precise and important points throughout this phase. In case you have charts or graphs to display, filter and pick two or three of them.
Make sure the ending of your speech is impactful and doesn’t leave the audience confused. Rather, it is supposed to leave them thinking about your ideas and solutions and how they can use your call to action to their benefit.
Finally, write out your complete speech using the outline. Do it freely and calmly but keep your boundaries in mind. Keep retouching it from time to time as the first write will just be a rough draft. Retouching and reworking can involve constructive feedback from your co-workers or partners which can really help you.
Prepare presentation slides
You can take a hands-on or hands-off approach when making your presentation slides. The former will require you to invest in some effort and time while the latter will allow you to sit back and leave the ‘technical’ task to external designers. Either way, they should be attractive and attention-grabbing. Visual engagement is a key element of a successful and indulging presentation and you wouldn’t want to miss out on that!
Step 4: Build Your Confidence & Polish Your Presentation
25 percent of the total population has a fear of public speaking. Confidence is a key element and goes a long way in shaping up a person’s presentation skills. For you to learn to present well and effectively, you need to ‘look’ and ‘feel’ confident before and while delivering your presentation. This can be made possible by following some of our simple tips.
- Practice makes a man perfect and that’s what you’ll need to do every day to be comfortable with your content and slides.
- Don’t let the negativity in your head get to you. More often than ever, we are our own biggest and most lethal critics. Remember to track your progress and be positive about it to achieve success.
- Encourage yourself through positive affirmations regularly. This may just be the best way to deal with that cruel inner critic and gain confidence.
- While practicing, visualize your audience and the entire venue. Present like it’s the big day already. Further, visualize your success in the form of positive gestures from the audience and applause. Entering that positive space will help you in speaking with a lot more confidence.
When it comes to polishing your presentation, you can do it easily by integrating some exercises into your daily practice sessions and polish your own presentation skills continuously until the big day arrives.
Work on and with your voice every day. Speak clearly, loudly, softly, gently and perfect each of these variations as you’ll need a balanced mixture during your presentation. Try speaking into a mic and recording your voice to work on it more precisely. Moreover, make sure that you’ve got your pauses right. Pauses are essential components of a presentation which is why you need to make the most out of them; pause any time you feel like you should (if you’re rambling or going too fast) and use that time to assess the expressions and responses of your audience.
Working on your body language and facial expressions is extremely important as these greatly affect the deliverance of your message to your audience and the outcomes. For the latter, practice smiling genuinely and seeming approachable and friendly to your audience. For the former, work on maintaining a sober and positive body language. Remember that the members of your audience will follow your body’s lead!
Step 5: Tips for the Big Day
So, the day finally arrives and you are obviously feeling a bit anxious and jittery. Try to push these feelings aside and go on-stage with that genuine sense of confidence that has built up inside of you after all those practice sessions. It is there, believe it or not. Go through everything positively in your mind; you have prepared for this, you know the content and you are ready in every way! Your positive mindset will greatly reflect on your performance and help you achieve success (we are sure of that!).
Note: Your appearance will matter so make sure you dress according to the theme of your presentation. Moreover, there is no window for late arrivals. Be at the venue well before the audience’s arrival time, prepare, practice and get things done!
About This Presentation Skills Guide
This guide offers the most insightful articles, educational videos, expert insights, specialist tips and best free tutorials about presentation skills from around the internet. The learning guide is split into four levels: introduction, basics, advanced and expert. You can learn at your own pace. Each item shows an estimated reading or watching time, allowing you to easily plan when you want to read or watch each item. Below you’ll find a table of contents that enables you to easily find a specific topic you might be interested in.
The Importance of Presentation Skills
Presentation skills can be defined as a set of abilities that enable an individual to: interact with the audience; transmit the messages with clarity; engage the audience in the presentation; and interpret and understand the mindsets of the listeners. These skills refine the way you put forward your messages and enhance your persuasive powers.
What Makes a Presentation Great?
Some speeches feel like magic. They grab our attention and carry us through to the point of realization. While enormous credit goes to the skill of these orators, there are a few elements we can isolate in great talks and bring into our own practice.
Using Simon Sinek’s wildly popular TED talk, let’s walk through these components.
How to Give the Best Presentation You Possibly Can
Your goal as a speaker is to be relevant to your audience, engage them, have them learn something and then perhaps persuade them to do something with this newfound knowledge. To succeed at this you need to be compelling, which is defined as “evoking interest or attention in a powerfully irresistible way.”
So how do you accomplish this? Whether you’re giving a talk to ten people or 500, here are some important things that will make you a better presenter, and teacher.
Verbal Communication Skills List and Examples
Effective verbal communication skills include more than just talking. Verbal communication encompasses both how you deliver messages and how you receive them. Communication is a soft skill, and it’s one that is important to every employer.
Nonverbal Communication Skills List and Examples
When you’re interviewing for a job or participating in a meeting, your nonverbal communication is almost as important as your verbal responses. Crossed arms can seem defensive. Poor posture may appear unprofessional. A downward gaze or avoiding eye contact can detract from you being seen as confident.
Planning an Effective Presentation
An effective presentation makes the best use of the relationship between the presenter and the audience. It takes full consideration of the audience’s needs in order to capture their interest, develop their understanding, inspire their confidence and achieve the presenter’s objectives. Careful planning is essential.
Organize Your Presentation
While it’s difficult to wipe out nerves completely, there are plenty of tactics to reduce them and make speaking in front of a crowd easier. The most important of these tactics happens way before the presentation ever does: preparation. An organized, well-prepared presentation makes standing up and talking about any subject easier. Affirm your authority when you stand up to speak by organizing your thoughts and knowledge in a way that is cohesive and easy to present.
How to Create Your Presentation Content
Remember, you’re the expert and your audience are the learners. Content is all about communication: telling a story, conveying your message, sharing your knowledge and offering your solution. Designing your slides before your content is finalized is back-to-front and upside down. Trust us on this: content comes before design. Promise.
How to Structure your Presentation
If you’ve ever sat through a great presentation, you’ll have left feeling either inspired or informed on a given topic. This isn’t because the speaker was the most knowledgeable or motivating person in the world. Instead, it’s because they know how to structure presentations – they have crafted their message in a logical and simple way that has allowed the audience can keep up with them and take away key messages.
Things to Know About Your Audience Before You Present
Even if you have the best content in the world and are the best public speaker in your department, if you don’t know your audience, you might get off the first slide but still won’t end up influencing the way you want to. Here are five key things I always prepare for when it comes to each member of the audience I’m presenting to.
How to Build a Connection With Your Audience
Many speakers think the best way to start their presentation is to establish credibility through a listing off of credentials, honors, and titles. While this is important, a display of intellectual prowess is not the best way to start your talk. Instead, use the first few moments of your time in the spotlight to build a connection with the audience.
How to Keep Your Audience Focused on Your Presentation
Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense movies, once said: “Always make the audience suffer as much as possible.” Today, this statement can easily be applied to the majority of speakers delivering business presentations. Giving a bad presentation is tantamount to mental abuse. What’s more, no matter how important or valuable our content is, if it is not presented in a way that sparks and maintains attention, we lose.
Here are nine practical tips to help you deliver engaging presentations that will keep the audience focused on your message.
Presentation Tips For Public Speaking
This page draws on published advice from expert presenters around the world, which will help to take your presentations from merely ‘good’ to ‘great’. By bringing together advice from a wide range of people, the aim is to cover a whole range of areas. Whether you are an experienced presenter, or just starting out, there should be ideas here to help you to improve.
Advanced Presentation Tips To Become a Great Public Speaker
Many of “the rich” who I meet are already very, very good public speakers. How do you transform an already good public speaker into a showstopper? Here are seven advanced techniques I only offer to leaders who are already very comfortable and very good at delivering presentations. The top 5-percenters become 1-percenters because they do the following.
Working with Visual Aids
If good use of visual aids can make a presentation, poor use can ruin it. Who, after all, has not be subject to ‘death by PowerPoint’, in one of its many forms? This page explains more about how to use visual aids effectively in presentations and helps you to avoid being remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Effective PowerPoint Presentation Tips
The best PowerPoint presentations shouldn’t be remembered. Instead, they should fall into the background to support you and the message you’re trying to get across. What does stand out as a distraction however, is a bad PowerPoint presentation. Whether it’s a million lines of text, a disjointed flow, ugly photos, or poor design, bad PowerPoints detract from the overall message you’re trying to get across.
The 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint Presentations
Guy Kawasaki advocated the 10-20-30 Rule of PowerPoint, which banks on the idea that a presentation “should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.” Although Kawasaki originally meant it to be for entrepreneurs and startup business owners, this principle applies to all types of presentations.
How to Calm Your Nerves Before a Big Presentation
I’ve been doing a lot of presenting recently, and I have no problem admitting that it’s tough. For those not born with natural eloquence, public speaking can be remarkably nerve-racking. We can’t all deliver the next Gettysburg Address, but there are several small things you can do prior to your next big presentation that will help calm your nerves and set you up for optimal oration.
Managing Presentation Nerves
If you are like most people, then public speaking or presenting is one of your major fears (it’s known as “glossophobia”). Yet these skills are often called upon. It might not be to an audience of hundreds, but giving presentations to staff or even team members is a common enough occurrence. You owe it to yourself to develop some strategies and techniques to manage your nerves so you can concentrate on delivering an effective and engaging presentation.
How to Improve Presentation Skills and Your Confidence
Tips by Rachel Willis on how to improve your Presentation & Public Speaking skills & confidence. She has trained presenters all over the world for more than 20 years and understand what a daunting and difficult task public speaking can be!
Communication Skill Activities
On this page you will find a number of training activities that focus on specific key communication skills learning points. Feel free to use them as is to support your communication skills training or tailor them further to suit your specific key learning concepts or audience.
How Good Are Your Presentation Skills?
From sales pitches to training lectures, good presentation and public speaking skills are key to many influential roles in today’s business world. The good news about presenting is that you can improve with practice.
So do you have the skills you need to do a good job? And how effective are you when you have to “perform”? Take this short quiz to help you assess your skills.
Best Presentation Ideas, Design Tips & Examples
I turned to SlideShare and looked at the most viewed presentations. After looking at hundreds of different authors, topics, and designs, I’ve assembled over 100 tips on how to design a compelling presentation. Here are 120+ presentation ideas, design tips, and examples to help you create an awesome slide deck for your next presentation.
The Most Successful Presentation Hook Ideas
Wouldn’t it be great if every single person who attends your presentation gets excited at your speech and stays tuned until the end, focusing on you the entire time? I think we both know the answer to that question. The problem is that we always lack presentation hook ideas to start the presentation.
If you want to catch the attention of your audience, however, you must really hook your audience from the very beginning.
Public Speaking Tips From the Best TED Talks Speakers
What the truly great TED speakers do differently from the rest can be found in the first few minutes of their presentation. And that makes sense if you think about it. It’s during the opening remarks that the audience sits up and pays attention… or reaches for their iPhones.
With that in mind, here are five of the most popular TED Talks speakers (as measured by page views), with the techniques they use to enthrall their audiences.
Further Reading: Best Books About Presentation Skills
How to Wash a Chicken: Mastering the Business Presentation. This is not a book about public speaking (or chickens), it’s a comprehensive playbook for business leaders and people on their way up to give the best presentations of their lives, and embark on a circle of presentation success.
Harvard Business Review Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Terrified of speaking in front of a group? Or simply looking to polish your skills? No matter where you are on the spectrum, this guide will give you the confidence and the tools you need to get results. Written by presentation expert Nancy Duarte.
The Compelling Communicator: Mastering the Art and Science of Exceptional Presentation Design. In this book you will learn a proven process for designing presentations that touch your audience in a highly impactful way, motivating them to take your desired action.
Talk Like Ted. Public speaking coach and bestselling author Carmine Gallo has broken down hundreds of TED talks and interviewed the most popular TED presenters, as well as the top researchers in the fields of psychology, communications, and neuroscience to reveal the nine secrets of all successful TED presentations.
Further Learning: Best Presentation Skill Courses
Presentation Skills: Speechwriting, Slides and Delivery. Deliver compelling presentations. Learn and apply the principles of speechwriting, slide design and delivery like great presenters.
Dynamic Public Speaking Course by the University of Washington. This four-course specialization will provide you with the instruction, experience, and practice to develop and deliver compelling presentations. Drawing from the established knowledge in communication, rhetoric, linguistics, and argumentation, each course balances proven ideas with lots of speech practice.
Complete Presentation Skills Masterclass for Every Occasion. This course is your way to get a Master’s level education on how to present effectively. You will receive in-depth training on every aspect of Presentation Skills – Public Speaking – Communication Skills – Storytelling Skills – PowerPoint – Confidence on Camera.
Presentation Skills – Advanced: Speak Without Reading Notes. You will learn to speak directly to your audience. You will no longer be tempted to read word-for-word from a script or to read bullet points form a PowerPoint. You will learn to speak with confidence to audiences because you will know that the audience perceives you as authentic and knowledgeable. You will learn how to speak in such a way that your audience will perceive you as not speaking from notes.