Do you like speaking to groups of people? Are you relaxed on stage? A few people are lucky to feel confident about speaking in public but most of us feel nervous in this situation. This is totally normal! But there are ways to stop the nerves from taking over. Remember, ‘practice makes perfect’. Everyone who is good at giving public presentations has practised a lot. Practising will help to increase your confidence.
How do you present your points so people remember them? Let’s look at some simple steps you can take to get better at public speaking. The key thing to remember is that it’s not what you say or how long you speak but how your presentation affects your audience. Learn these tips and techniques and you’ll be able to give great presentations.
- Three Simple Steps
When you’re presenting to an audience, you want to get your message across effectively. Here are three simple steps you can use for any presentation:
- Tell them what you’re going to say.
- Say it.
- Tell them what you said.
Research has shown that repetition (saying the same information more than once) always helps people to remember. When you use this tip, your audience hears your main points three times. This helps to make your presentation memorable. Keep your points short and easy to remember.
- Stick to Three Points
Never have more than three main points in a presentation. If you try to make more than three points, the most important ones will get lost. People can remember three points but not many more. It is important to make your points as short as possible. This rule is also a reminder that many people prefer a short presentation. A shorter presentation also means there is less room for making a mistake or forgetting information. Sometimes a few words are better: less is more!
Try to make your three points as engaging as possible. For example, start with an attention-getter that makes your audience want more. This will make sure they pay attention for the rest of your presentation. Make sure the attention-getter is short, real and unique.
You can use pictures in your presentation to keep the audience’s attention. Using statistics and quotes is also a great way to keep things interesting. Presenting well is about entertaining your audience while you share information.
- Learn to Stand Still
Practice standing still! This may seem like a simple point, but it isn’t. Be aware of the way you stand while presenting. Put your feet firmly on the ground. Learn to stand still in a relaxed, comfortable way without moving. This will also help you to feel less nervous. Do not pull at your clothing, as this could distract people. Of course, you can move around during your presentation if you want to. But when you stop — stand still!
The goal is for your audience to be focused on your presentation, and nothing you do must take that focus away. Have a plan to help with your nerves. If you feel nerves taking control, try to focus on standing still. It is good to focus on just one person rather than everyone in the room. You could even focus on your breath to calm your nerves. You may have heard of the‘butterflies in your stomach’ feeling that people refer to when they are anxious; to help with this, breathe deeply and drink a little water. Remember, you are not alone in feeling nervous. And the audience is on your side!
- Remember Your Mood
Your mood is important during your presentation. As the presenter, it is your job to create a positive mood and to keep this mood throughout your presentation. Remember to make your points with passion and a strong belief in what you are saying. If your audience feels you do not believe in your own words, they may lose their focus. If they sense a low mood, they may also struggle to focus.
- Show Enthusiasm
Keep your energy levels up throughout your presentation. The audience may not always remember what you said in detail. However, they will definitely remember if you spoke with enthusiasm (passion and energy).
It’s also important to be relaxed, and a simple way to maintain a relaxed mood is to concentrate on your breath. Slow it down and make sure you take deep breaths when the nerves start. If you can maintain a relaxed mood, you will present better. You will begin to enjoy yourself and be enthusiastic about what you are presenting. Your audience will respond better and focus more.
- Involve the Audience
During your presentation, ask the audience three questions. Involving the audience makes your presentation feel more interesting. It also means people get a short break from the sound of your voice. Prepare the questions you want to ask, write them down and have them in front of you so you don’t forget. Preparing is key!
Make sure your presentation is created for your specific audience. This will make it easier for them to get involved. Telling a story is a powerful presentation technique for keeping your audience engaged. Human beings always respond well to stories. Often, people can get bored during a long presentation; however, an interesting story can give your presentation that personal feeling. Your audience might relate to your story, which could lead to a good conversation.
- Keep Track of Time
Keep to the time you have been given. Thirty minutes means 30 minutes, not 35. Remember that you may want to take questions from the audience at the end. When you practice your presentation, keep an eye on the clock and make sure you can finish within the time you’ve been given.
You must be able to communicate your key messages without taking more time. This means you must not say anything that is not relevant to the main points of the meeting. People do not usually have time to waste, so don’t waste it!
A good tip to become aware of the time is to wear a watch. Simple but effective.
If you want to give good presentations, you must rehearse. Some people do not rehearse at all. Others think it’s enough to just read over their slides a few times.
You must rehearse your complete presentation, from start to finish, over and over again. Imagine there’s an audience in front of you and deliver your presentation as if you’re doing it for real. Stand the way you’re going to stand, speak the way you’re going to speak and move the way you’re going to move. Rehearse your presentation until you know every word more or less by heart.
Use your mobile phone to video yourself as you practice. This will help you to notice mistakes and correct them in the real presentation.
One thing to note about practising is that enough will never be enough! Decide how many practice presentations you really need and stick to that number.
- Use Your Voice Effectively
Speaking is the most common method of presentation and it’s important to get it right. It is not only what you say, but how you say it. Avoid speaking in the same tone of voice the whole time. Instead, raise and lower your voice to create contrast and interest. Do not say sorry to the audience unless you have made a serious mistake. Just move on. Avoid long and unnecessary pauses and avoid saying ‘ummm’. You want your audience to focus on the confidence in your voice and your interest in the topic. It is also important to make eye contact with the audience to create a connection with them.
By changing the speed, pitch and tone of your voice, you can make your presentation more interesting. Your body language needs to work with your voice. For example, the way you use your body will help you to get your messages across. Avoid crossing your arms or putting your hands in your pockets. Instead, use your hands as tools which accompany your voice for more of an effect. Make sure your movements are open and confident. The more natural your body language is, the more relaxed your audience will feel.
- End With Clear Guidelines and Objectives
Ending the presentation is as important as beginning it. It may be useful to ask for feedback from your audience just before you finish your presentation or afterwards. Make sure you allow this time for discussion when it feels right. If you are at risk of going over time, politely redirect the discussion back to your presentation so you can finish in time. If you do not know the answer to some of your audience’s questions, say so. Be honest! You also have the right to keep questions until the end of your presentation. And you can ask people with questions to speak to you after the meeting.
End by repeating all your points once more and reminding your audience of the most important parts of your presentation. It is important to list your goals so your audience is aware of your plan and knows you are future-driven.
Close your presentation in a positive and confident way. Thank the audience for their time. Accept criticism and feedback. Know you are not perfect but recognise that you tried your best. Be proud of yourself!
Topic: Cool Confidence, The Leader In You