Improve Presentation Skills

For many people speaking in front of an audience is scary.

You must present a topic that you are supposed to know well (that’s why you were chosen to talk about it), while everyone in the room is staring at you. Hundreds of thoughts are going through your head…’Do I look ok? Are my clothes/hair/ makeup fine? Am I sweating? Should I stay still or should I move around? I can’t remember what to say.’

These are all common fears because we feel we’re under the microscope and everyone is focused on us analyzing every mistake.

To overcome anxiety about public speaking, you must learn how to improve your presentation skills.

Being able to present your ideas in a professional way is a necessary skill no matter the field in which you are working, whether you have your own business, or you work in a company or you have to sell cosmetics in a store.

The first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that you have an issue. Then you can start researching on your own and practice with a purpose.

To help you overcome your fear of public speaking, we reached out to 27 coaches and trainers and asked them:

Q. What is the most valuable advice for someone who wants to improve their presentation skills?

We received some awesome tips and techniques that you can use to deliver great presentations.

Drawn from countries across the world, our experts agreed that the technique which has most impact on the success of a presentation is Engagement…creating a two-way connection between us and the audience which ensures that we are addressing their needs and expectations.

Coming a close second in the top 3 presentation techniques our experts identified is Storytelling,  a technique which when used thoughtfully strongly impacts our authenticity and credibility.

In third place, a skill which can often get less attention than it deserves…Planning which of all the components of a successful presentation is, perhaps has the most widespread impact on our presentations.

We hope that you will find the practical tips on these and all the valuable insights of our experts useful as they share their experience drawn from years of working with presenters across a wide range of business sectors and situations. We thank them for their input.

 

  • Bruce Au – A.S. Watson Group

    Bruce Au In my experience presentation skill is a skill that is learned rather than inborn so anyone can improve their presentation skill in time. It is a very common misconception that a great presenter has be an extrovert but often this isn’t the case. Steve Jobs, for example, is a world-class presenter but an introvert.

    So the point is anyone can be a great presenter and is just the matter of how hard you put yourself into training and practice. Based on your personality everyone would have their own style of presenting that makes them feel comfortable and natural.

    Go look at how great presenters present and gather your thoughts on their techniques or the way they speak. Trial and error on the techniques until you find a way that best suits yourself. In my opinion, another great way to arouse audience interest and get them to talk about it afterward is the use of story.

    Tell a personal story or other stories that are relevant to the topic. Using a personal story has a great advantage because people will feel you are genuine and legit and they are more likely to buy-in to you.

  • Charlie Lang – Progressu

    Charlie Lang

    Most presenters tend to develop their presentation in the sequence they intend to give it, often following the model Opening – Body – Conclusion. However, it has proven to significantly improve the impact of a presentation if the development of the presentation is done in a reverse sequence.

    Start by developing the conclusion which typically includes a summation of the key points followed by the key message you want the audience to take away and perhaps a call to action. Once this has been effectively crafted, go on by developing the body of the presentation, ideally following the ‘rule of 3’, such as 3 key points, 3 sub-points per key point, etc. Only then think about how you want to open the presentation, which typically includes an indication of the key message, the ‘map’ or overview of the key points and a ‘hook’, e.g. a rhetorical question or a short story or perhaps even an audacious lie.

    Developing the presentation in reverse sequence forces you to first think very carefully what you want the audience to take away, thus your key points in the body will be very likely to be totally relevant. Once you worked through that, you will have a lot of clarity about all aspects of your presentation, allowing you to think of a very meaningful and high-impact opening.

  • Jasrin Singh – Eikaa

    Jasrin Singh Presenting to large audiences can be quite challenging, given the “fear of public speaking” epidemic that runs in our Society. I too was plagued by this epidemic – Perfectly confident until you put me on a stage, even if it was to make a small company announcement! But I overcame it, and so can you: My top pointers on presenting like a Rockstar:

    1. Subject Matter Expertise – Be an expert on the topic you are presenting on. Knowing that you can answer any questions that are put to you, will boost your confidence.
    2. Authenticity – Know your true self and love your true self. One of the main reasons for nervousness on stage is trying to be someone you are not – or worrying about what people might think of you. Being deeply connected with your own soul exudes a confidence and charisma which cannot be got through “technical” expertise.
    3. Use Story Telling – nothing connects with and inspires people more than sharing stories where you personally have failed, succeeded, overcome limitations (relevant to your Subject matter)
    4. Deliver Value – No matter what the context of your presentation, think about how you can add value to your audience. Intend to uplift them and leave them with an impression of increase.
  • Jamie Dixon – Shaping Paths

    Jamie Dixon My most valuable advice would be to talk to the senses. If you think about how we take in information about the world around us, it’s all through our senses. And so when we use vivid language that describes sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings, the audience can relate to it much more easily.

    For example, if you are trying to sell your apartment, then don’t tell them that it’s 200 square meters with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Tell them that the lounge is big enough to fit a ping pong table, you won’t have to fight with your partner in the morning over who gets to use the bathroom, and with that extra bedroom, you can have guests over to stay anytime you like.

  • Remus Zhong

    Remus Zhong Every good presentation is a result of following 3 S’s – Steps, Simplicity, and Story. Steps give your presentation a smooth flow – a result of proper planning, preparation and practice. Find out about your target audience and customize your presentation for them.

    Decide what information to present, then prepare any visuals, handouts, materials, and equipment that you will be using. Familiarise yourself with the content by practicing your delivery and timing. Any instructions should be clear, concise and specific.

    Remember to allow time to carry out your instructions. Simplicity ensures that your session is understandable but not ‘dumbed down’, challenging but not too difficult to grasp. To do this, use:

    • Short sentences
    • Everyday words instead of jargon or technical terms
    • Personal pronouns, like ‘I’ and ‘you’
    • Active verbs instead of passive verbs
    • A little humor

    Stories help make your presentation memorable. After all, we are all wired to pay attention to (good) stories. A typical story flow goes:

    1. Connect (with the audience)
    2. Create (scenes in audience’s minds)
    3. Characters
    4. Crack
    5. Conflict
    6. Climax
    7. Clearing (of prior messes)
    8. Conclusion

    Apart from full-fledged stories, you can share anecdotes and human interest stories. Just make sure that they are relevant to the topic of your presentation.

  • Sally Dellow – Dramatic Difference

    Sally Dellow We’ve all seen it countless times… A seemingly weak speaker hits their stride about 5 minutes into their presentation and has to s-l-o-w-l-y and painfully win back their audience. To avoid this, rehearse your transition from waiting to go on stage right through to landing your perfect opening sentences. Nerves are naturally at their peak just before you start speaking in public.

    For actors, nerves can power an electrifying performance. But for many others, they cause a blank brain, constricted breathing, shaking hands, fidgeting legs, tunnel vision and an opening paragraph peppered with “um” and “ah”.

    The first part of managing your transition involves knowing what to expect:

    Where will you be waiting before the speech: In the audience? Up on the stage? In the wings? Sitting or standing? Seated at a table or in a row of chairs? How big is the room? How far will you have to move from the waiting space to the speaking area? Will there be a lectern or can you move around? Are there steps up to the stage? How tall is the lectern? Is the projector on a table or ceiling-mounted?

    Secondly, you need to make clear choices: Written notes or a laptop? Cue cards or A4 paper? Know the sequence of your slides, do some deliberate rehearsal…

    Finally, as you move between waiting and speaking, do these three things with awareness:

    1) Breathing

    2) Smiling

    3) Moving in slow motion

    All of this helps you feel safer and more in control. That keeps your head clear so you can connect with the audience and share your material with impact right from the first word.

  • Lily Ting – Asia Career Coaching

    Lily Ting Expertise is not about expert words. A good communicator is able to explain complex issues to a layman with simple words. Nowadays with the internet, mobile phone, people are quickly bored, hence, it is important to start with catchy words and sentences.

    For example, in a self-introductory pitch people should not follow the chronological order, but rather start with key points such as their competencies, their passion, the highest or lowest in their life or even with a question. Then, the presentation has to be developed in a structured way. Using keywords can be useful to remember the sequence of the speech and ease the story, the demonstration etc..

    The conclusion is as important as the start. It can be an illustration of the main theme, the outcome of an experience etc…It has to reiterate the key points presented at the beginning. Often it ends with a call for action. Apart from choosing the right words, demonstrating energy, getting the right tone, having the body engaged in the talk makes a definite difference in engaging the audience.

  • Iris Kloth – Onwards & Upwards

    Iris Kloth When I have to prepare for a presentation, I allow myself the support of a coach.

    First and foremost you get a sparring partner, you can explain the message you want to get across and by talking about it, make adjustments and amendments already.

    Secondly, you’ll boost your confidence. A coach supports you towards your goals and is driven by your success. The feedback you get in the coaching process is invaluable and crucial for your success. In case you are dealing with fears and seemingly uncontrollable emotions, I am working on a short-term intervention called Wingwave. It kind of sorts out the fears and transforms it into positive energy. It feels quite magical to have a tool that in a very short time, helps you overcome your negative emotions, and even in some cases turns them towards the positive spectrum of liking public speaking.

    Another key success factor with presentations is practice. Simulate the presentation, imagine the people in the room, anticipate questions and think about the answers. Be authentic and tell your story. Link whatever you are presenting to your own story or journey. The audience will enjoy hearing from people that are similar to themselves.

     

    One of my preferred questions is, what is the worst that can happen? Usually, the fear is connected to the ego, self-confidence or fear of failure; remember the response you are getting from the audience is just feedback. And the beauty of feedback is that the choice is yours if you want to take it on board and if it is helpful on your onward journey.

  • Cristina Rodenbeck – Ignition Coaching

    Cristina Rodenbeck At one point in our careers presenting – formally or informally – becomes a big part of what we do, and if we do it well we open unforeseen doors of opportunity. So how do we get it right? How do we feel at ease, exude confidence, and effectively get our message across? Here are five tips we believe can help you to present your ideas and connect with your audience or counterpart:

    1. Each encounter is a presentation – The idea that presenting is only when you are up at a podium or in front of a room with Power Points slides behind you can be misleading; we can appear nonchalant and thus lose the opportunity to make a positive impression. Each encounter is a presentation – be ready and live up to each encounter.

    2. First Impression and 3V’s of Communication – In business interactions, first impressions are crucial. A safe place to start is mastering Professor Albert Mehrabian’s 3 V’s of Communication: your visual, verbal, and vocal qualities because ultimately this is how you impact people. The 3 V’s is a great foundation for any human interaction.

    3. Emotions can get in the way – It is not unusual to feel overwhelming nervousness when presenting or speaking in public. Stage fright can interfere with our ability to convey our message effectively. Rescue Remedy by Dr. Edward Bach can be really helpful. This ready-made flower remedy formula, which is 100% natural, can help you relax and focus on the task at hand.

    4. Clarify your message – one of the greatest mistakes people make when it comes to communication and presentation skills is the lack of a clear and succinct message. Clarifying your message – the ONE thing you want people to remember after the presentation or communication – is key to a successful presentation.

    5. Practice with feedback makes perfect – Practicing without feedback may mean that you stay in the blind spot. It’s important to get feedback so you know if what you’re saying is impactful and serves its purpose. Ask trusted colleagues, a manager, coach or mentor to evaluate your performance and give you specific feedback in a constructive manner!

  • Paul F Davis

    Paul F Davis Grow in self-awareness. Listen to others. Awaken to your weaknesses and blind spots.

    Learn how to better connect with people. Be a lifelong learner, know what you are talking about, and only speak on what you are passionate about.

  • Kar Fei – Life Redesigned

    Kar Fei

    The most valuable advice would be to turn your thoughts into structured and point form. When you present an idea, the best way to not lose people’s interest is when they know exactly how many points you have, and they know you are clear with what you want to say.

    For example, when you start a presentation, tell them exactly that you have 3 things to talk about today. So in their mind, they are ready for 3 (or more) – and you will be able to keep them engaged and wait for all your 3 points.

    This is one of the most important key for my clients who want to improve presentation and/or communication skills. Most of them speak before structuring their thoughts (or structured while speaking) – which makes them lose engagement and interests from other party.

  • Carole Stovall – SLS Global

    Carole Stovall To improve presentation skills, I ask three things of those I coach:

    1. Presentations are a type of language. To be the most effective, you need to know the cultural expectations of your audience, the country, and company you are working in! So immediately, be open to adapting your presentation style. Your objectives stay the same, but your style will usually need to change, regardless of how effective your presentation have been in the US.

    2. Make No Assumptions about your presentation skills. What you have always done in your country may or may not be the most effective way to communicate in the country where you are. This is OK! Take inventory of the skills of the most successful people and executives where you are. Ask others what they think are the most successful presentations and why, then listen, learn and adapt.

    3. Initially, create your presentations using feedback from others, from those who will provide a real critique. This can be difficult information to get when in an Asian country because criticism to your face is usually considered very rude. Make sure they know that you sincerely want this information and over time you can receive it. But it is critically important to understand how your communication is being received. So when giving your presentation, notice how people respond to what you are saying and how you are saying it – work to read the room. Then after your presentation, again seek out the feedback.

    These steps can seem like they take a lot of time, but especially in the beginning, they will actually help people to work faster and faster when working in a different country.

    If you notice that many things I have said are good things to do wherever you are, that is correct!! The biggest difference in foreign countries is to stop and always consider the culture where you are. But, culture is everywhere and is different from company to company as well as from country to country. Being AWARE of this fact and adjusting our style to the realities of where we are, who we are communicating with is the real secret. This is emotional intelligence at work!

  • Syed Irfan Ajmal

    Syed Irfan Ajmal

    My most valuable advice for colleagues that want to improve their presentation skills would be to ensure their presentation is created and available in multiple formats (pptx, ppt, PDF and more) and that it is also available in more than one locations (e.g. email, 2 flash drives etc), and that they should still do their rehearsals as if there was no presentation that they can use.

    This is especially important when there are power cuts or other issues (such as their MacBook’s flash drive not working on a Windows PC) so that they can do their presentation flawlessly. If they still want some kind of reading material, they should have a list of topics and related info written on an ordered list of flashcards.

  • Calum Coburn – The Negotiation Experts

    Calum Coburn

    1. In some countries, including Japan and China, the approach of starting your business presentation by promoting your company as being the best doesn’t go down very well. Japanese and Chinese are more modest and careful about self-promotion. It’s more of a 『we』 than a 『me』. Best to take some local advice from an agent or member of your team who is from your local country.

    2. Passion sells. So think about the emotion you want your audience to receive your presentation with, and lead with this emotion.

    3. Australian audiences and therefore presentations are not too dissimilar from our cousins over in America. Australians or Aussies like a sprinkling of humour, preferably self-effacing humour. We picked this up from our British ancestors. Humour is best added at the end of your presentation design, just as you add spices near the end of your meal presentation. Conversely, front-load your presentation with some humour. This relaxes your audience and allows your audience to better relate to you as a speaker.

  • Steve de Mamiel

    Steve de Mamiel The most valuable advice I received to improve my presentation skills was to make sure that the topic was not just a topic, but rather, an idea. People want to learn something new from a presentation, not just hear a set of facts or a statement. An idea engages the audience and makes the presentation more interesting.

    In addition, it makes the presenter focus on answering a question rather than linearly delivering a set of facts with no natural conclusion. For example, if your presentation was on free trade, your could topic could be: “America needs to promote free trade and remove trade tariffs.” Or alternativity, the topic could “How American free trade could improve living standards of families..”

    With that subtle change of topic, it raises questions with the audience that they expect to be answered, it personalizes the topic and directs the presenter through a logical discussion with a natural conclusion. The presentation can then follow a storyline that is easy for the presenter to prepare and present.

  • Terrance Leung – Progressu

    Terrance Leung My recommendation is: It is important to create your own personal style, identifying and leveraging personal strengths, then combining it with basic presentation skills to begin with.

    As you getting more comfortable presenting, continuously develop and upgrade your style while being aware of how the audience feels about your presentation and seeking feedback as appropriate.

  • R!k Schnabel – Life Beyond Limits

    R!k Schnabel

    As a trainer of world-class speakers for the last 14 years, here is one tip that makes the greatest difference in a speakers ability to present with calm and power.

    The aim is to move a speaker from fovic vision to expanded awareness.

    What is it?

    It’s the way we focus our viewpoint.

    When we’re stressed or in hyper alert, we move into 『tunnel vision.』 It’s an ancient neural pattern that we’ve had since hunting bison. We need tunnel vision (or fovic vision) to be able to predict where the bison will run to and how fast we need to run and at which trajectory to hit that beast with a spear. All while running.

    Speakers in a nervous state are typically fovic, but the audience are certainly not bison. Though this way of looking at the audience will activate our sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system. In other words, our 『flight』 or 『fight』 responses.

    How do we calm ourselves down and give our best talk?

    If you can expand your vision from fovic to 『expanded awareness』 by taking in the entire landscape around you all at once, you will immediately start to calm down. This way of looking forward will have you seeing the sides of the stage as well as the audience and cause your brainwave patterns to move from high-level Beta waves (stress) to calming Alpha waves; the kind of brain patterns that comes from meditation and relaxation techniques.

    Try it now and notice (once you get over the weirdness of it) how you start to calm your thoughts as you look forward and wiggle your fingers at the side of your head, near your ears. See your wiggling fingers as well as the audience and you will look forward to a relaxed, professional talk.

    Speak out, speak up and change the world.

  • Trish Springsteen

    Trish Springsteen

    In my opinion, there is not one single element to giving a great presentation – you need to have several pieces of the puzzle there to be truly effective. One without the other can impact on how well you get your message across.

    It’s about them if you don’t know your audience you don’t know what to share and how and where you want to take them. It’s about having confidence and self-belief in your message and your expertise, without that you can’t effectively reach your audience. It’s about being genuine and authentic -if you aren’t the audience will be less likely to buy into your message,

    It’s about knowing what outcome you want from this particular audience at this particular time – if you don’t know where you want to take your audience you can wander in the wilderness and take your audience with you.

    For me these are all pieces that go to making an effective speaker – the body language , the voice, the stage presence are techniques and strategies – they add the polish.

    Get these foundations right and you are on your way to being a great presenter.

    From over 20 years of speaking, training, talking to other speakers and trainers, discussing with audiences and my guests on my radio shows one of the top characteristics of a great presenter is authenticity and being genuine – be you.

  • Deborah Ostreicher – Distinguished Communications

    Deborah Weissman Ostreicher

    If you are interested, passionate and truly care about your topic, you have the best chance of getting your audience to care. If they care, they can connect. If they connect, you can make an impact. You can be effective.

    How many times have you sat through long, boring presentations of graphs and charts and data; and no one in the room, including the speaker, appears to actually care? That’s not to say that hard data isn’t important; but what’s more important is finding the emotional touch point for the speaker and the audience that will create a connection.

    Is there anything you can find in your presentation, that you truly care about, that inspires your message?

    Once you can identify what you can relate to and how you feel about it, you can be effective in connecting with your audience. The best way to connect is to find a way to relate to the audience. It is surprising how often people don’t make an effort to do this. More common, presentations are:
    「Here’s who we are.」
    「Here’s what we do.」
    「Here’s what we sell.」

    Less often do we hear:
    「I’m passionate about this because..(I feel safer, I feel proud, I have a better quality of life)」
    「What this can change for your audience is..(less fear, more honor, contentment)」

    Effective presenters deliver information AND tap into emotions. People connect through how they feel- not through data alone: love, fear, pity, anger, excitement, honor, surprise, etc. Feelings ultimately drive action – not logic and reason alone.

    This isn’t new information; just rather forgotten. It goes all the way back to Aristotle and his teachings on the value of the emotional appeal.

  • Jinxuan Ann Zhang

    Jinxuan Ann Zhang It depends on many factors. Three important factors immediately stand out based on the limited information you’ve provided in your query.

    • Where they’re with their presentation skills;
    • What’s their role in the company (seniority, function, audience and so on);
    • Where they come from.

    Yet, disregard all the above factors, there is one single advice that applicable and most valuable to everyone is: TELL A GOOD STORY. Generally speaking, storytelling is a skill that everybody needs to improve and can improve. Other advice may be:

    • Confidence – Learn to control the room; Speak with the audience, not to talk to yourself or read the slides;
    • Well-designed slides and packages: keep it simple yet attractive; not full of texts, numbers, and graphics, nor too fancy. Visual aids shall be kept to the minimum only if they help illustrate the point or tell the story.
    • Control the delivery process: there shall be a flow that helps engage the audience.
  • Jason Murray – RAIN Group

    Jason Murray I have seen, read and heard a lot of advice on presentation skills over the years. Some focus on the content and structure of the presentation, and other advice is on how to calm nerves and stay “in the moment.” While I agree that all of this is important, I think the best advice is, to begin with the end in mind. You must focus on three important questions before you even begin to think about content, structure or delivery. Those questions include:

    • What do I want my audience to learn? All presentations must aim to educate the audience in some way. Otherwise, why would they listen?
    • What do I want my audience to feel? All presentations must evoke an emotional response. Otherwise, why would they remember it?
    • What do I want my audience to do? All presentations must inspire action for the audience take. Otherwise, what is the point in them listening?

    If you can answer these three simple, yet powerful questions, much of the other advice on content, structure, and delivery will be amplified.

  • Mark Stuart – Anagram Group

    Mark Stuart I used to fear being asked to make presentations and went out of my way to avoid them. After graduating I worked for a bank who sent me on a presentation skills course and now I deliver workshops on the topic. I’ve always been jealous of those who seemed to be naturally confident presenters until I learnt that most of them weren’t. They had just found ways to make it appear that way. After trying different pieces of advice, I soon discovered that, for me, I needed to ensure that I allocated sufficient time to prepare properly for the presentation and didn’t see it as an inconvenience.

    Therefore, my advice is very simply preparation. This involves allocating time for developing the content, designing the slides, crafting your script, practicing delivering it in front of someone (friends, family, colleagues, even the mirror or your phone) and then remembering it to the point where you don’t need your slides as a crutch.

    There is such a thing as over-preparation, but you can worry about that once your confidence levels have increased. Over time, your preparation time will decrease, and it will start to feel more natural. Then, your friends will start to talk about you as a natural presenter and start asking you for advice.

  • Julian Mather

    Julian Mather Stutterer to Speaker; this has been my journey. What got me comfortably in front of an audience was finally understanding the relationship between myself and the audience. I had made two assumptions and they both proved wrong.

    I thought audiences were hostile and it was my job to win them over. Wrong. Audiences desperately want you to be in control. Why? Because it means they don’t have to think. We all spend our days thinking and being responsible. If you show/act as you are in control they will support you for their own self-interested reasons.

    What really propelled me in confidence was accepting I wasn’t important. I thought I was. The truth is as soon as the audience leaves the room they are thinking about groceries, picking up kids, getting to a meeting. They are NOT thinking about you.

    So if you make a mistake or do a sub-par presentation the only person in the world likely worrying about it is you. Just make some notes on where to improve and get up there and do your next one. You’ll fly faster and sooner if you think this way.

  • Emma Bannister – Presentation Agency

    Emma Bannister

    Pulling together a presentation is so much more than making some slides ‘look pretty’. You must invest the time and energy into planning a powerful presentation so that your audience will invest their time and energy in you.

    The challenge is that most of us, especially those of us who work in organisations, are time poor. We often pull together the information for a presentation at the last hurried minute. Finding the time to research, write, design and rehearse is always going to be a challenge. While yes, we’re doing the best we can, the best is not usually enough.

    Presentations should be treated no differently to any other marketing collateral or consumer-facing information. In fact, you should invest more care, attention, time and effort into them because shareholders, customers, clients, colleagues and the public see them time and time again.

    When you start to care about what you’re presenting and how, then your audience will begin to care about you.

  • Godfrey Oyeniran – Spirit Worth

    Godfrey Oyeniran The most valuable advice I would suggest is practice. For some people that could simply mean offering to do more presentations at work. But if you’re not yet ready to make that jump, you could also look at ways in which to practice in a safer space.

    For example, that could involve joining your local Toastmasters chapter. Toastmasters offers a structured and supportive environment to practice public speaking. It also allows you to get feedback, something that is important if you want to know how to improve your performance.

    If you don’t yet feel ready to present in front of other people, you could always start by practicing by yourself. In its most simple form that could mean delivering your speech in front of a mirror. More valuable, however, would be to take advantage of technology to record yourself in action. Whether you choose to use your laptop or your smartphone, try filming yourself presenting on a topic. This will give you a better sense of your sound, posture, speaking pace and so on.

    Even though receiving honest, unbiased third-party feedback may be more valuable, hearing and seeing yourself in action should still give you ideas on where you can improve.

  • Carina Rogerio – SeeAre

    Carina Rogerio While preparing a presentation, a person will sometimes focus on :

    • Content: what is my level of expertise in the field and how can I share it?
    • Compensation of weaknesses: what is missing or what is it that I need to watch out for?

    Looking closely, this approach is not very empowering. The presentation is set up as if you are justifying why you get to talk about it. These questions are not wrong but they should not be the focus to start with. Instead, you could ask yourself the following:

    • Whom am I talking to? Identify the audience and what they seek out of the given presentation. On the same topic, the expectations of a board of directors or a team meeting are different.
    • Depending on who they are, how can my presentation add value to them?

    Being asked to do a presentation means you are deemed to be able to provide input to the audience. Trying to download all your expertise in the area is often not the best way. Focus on the audience and find what is relevant to that specific audience. Once identified, you build the content around it and then pinpoint what to watch out for.

  • Susan Sadler

    Susan Sadler Let’s acknowledge that presentations or public speaking can be nerve-wracking for many people. You’re not alone. Some of the most effective tactics may seem counterintuitive. Here are 5 tips to lift your game when it comes to presenting:

    1. Forget about yourself. I know, it sounds strange. You spend so much time thinking about what you want, what you want to say. But your impact is a direct result of your understanding of your audience. You have to get out of your own way and really think about what you want your audience to take away. Which leads me to:

    2. Know your audience. There’s nothing more frustrating than listening to someone who talks to you like you have no knowledge or experience with the subject matter. Acknowledge those who know a lot, as well as those who don’t. What do they have to gain by listening to you? What do you want them to do (or not do?). Put yourself in their shoes – what would make you want to nod along and stay engaged?

    3. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Preparation isn’t sexy, but it’s essential. All of those TED talk speakers who make it look easy? I can just about guarantee they spent a ton of time preparing and rehearsing. Your goal may not be a TED talk, and that’s ok, the same principles of preparation apply. Anticipate ‘hot buttons’ and questions.

    4. Get feedback. If it’s a high stakes presentation, enlist a colleague to listen and give you feedback before the presentation. If it’s a regular meeting (still important!), ask a peer or colleague to give you feedback afterward – what went well, what could have better. And offer to the same for him or her.

    5. It’s not about perfection. Of course, you want to be impactful and persuasive. But many people get caught up in achieving some elusive idea of perfection. Approach your presentation with some lightness and optimism. And most importantly, be yourself. It’s your most valuable and unique strength.

Thanks everyone

Thank you so much to everyone that contributed to this expert roundup, including Minuca of minucaelena.com for coordinating! If you have any questions or comments please contact me at the address below.

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