Author: Erin Reilly
You don’t have to like it but you can be good at it. Got an important presentation coming up? Here are a few tips to make you feel more comfortable.
Preparation is key
Whether you’re presenting a quick budget update to your team or a project debrief at your company-wide Town Hall, the more preparation and practicing you do beforehand the more comfortable you’ll be during it. Not only that, your audience won’t feel like they’ve wasted the last 20-odd minutes listening to you.
Know your audience
If you’re trying to communicate technical or complicated information to a team that doesn’t deal with that on the daily, you’ll need to change the way you speak to get your point across effectively. Don’t bore them with stuff they already know, but don’t speak so far over their heads that they don’t understand anything either.
When good slides go bad
Slides are great, but they should complement what you’re talking about, not actually do the talking. If your audience has to read screeds of information while they’re meant to be listening, your presentation won’t be very effective. If there’s lots of information to take in, provide takeaway notes at the end.
While you’re speaking, connect with your audience – not with your notes. Choose a few people or corners of the room to regularly look at. Prompting yourself by glancing at notes is good, but don’t rely on them too much (preparation is key here). The more you engage with your audience, the more engaged they’ll be with you.
A sure-fire sign of nerves is speaking like you’re a horse racing commentator. Taking a few seconds every now and again to shuffle papers or click onto the next slide is a good way to reinforce important points, allow your audience to think about what you’ve just said, and gather your thoughts before you move onto the next point. Most importantly, remember to breathe.
After your presentation, ask your audience for anonymous feedback. Not only will this make them feel more engaged, you’ll also walk away with some tangible tips for next time. Go into the feedback process with an open mind and expect constructive criticism. Remember: if the feedback isn’t universally glowing, there’s plenty of room for improvement (which is a good thing).
Give yourself a high-five
If you’re not a fan of public speaking but you get up there and do it anyway, you deserve a pat on the back. And you know what? The more you do it, the better you’ll become. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of more speaking opportunities. You never know; you might start to enjoy it.