Presentation skills are important to both individual success and business success.
Presenting information clearly and effectively is a key skill to get your message or opinion across and, today, presentation skills are required in almost every field.
Even if you don’t need to make regular presentations in front of a group, there are plenty of situations where good presentation and public speaking skills can help you advance your career and create opportunities.
Many people feel terrified when asked to make their first public talk, but these initial fears can be reduced by good preparation which will also lay the groundwork for making an effective presentation.
Research and have facts to supplement your speech. Create an outline, and once you’ve prepared your presentation, don’t be afraid to revise.
To develop your presenting skills and increase confidence you must prepare, practice and learn from each presentation. Rehearse what you are going to say out loud a minimum of three times. This will ensure you’ve found your flow and help eliminate any “ums”, “ahs” or other filler words.
No one is impressed by a presentation that rambles. Rambling happens when the speaker is both self-indulgent and unorganised. Your purpose and prose must be specifically directed to interests of your listeners or they will mentally shut you down.
If you’re not interested in your subject then no-one else stands a chance. You must bring some enthusiasm to your talk. Don’t be afraid to let go, even if it feels overdone at first. Be enthusiastic about your topic, it will help get your audience excited. Stand up and give the best of yourself. Try and feel the adrenalin from your nerves as a positive and use it to give yourself some energy.
PowerPoint, visuals and video are powerful presentation tools when used correctly. But they can be disastrous distractions when misused. They should never replace you as the provider of expertise. Keep your PowerPoint to a few words and never read from the screen in the presentation. Ask yourself if a slide or video is truly necessary before adding anything.
Every audience wonders what’s in it for them, so start a presentation with a reason to listen. You only have 45 seconds to get your audience’s attention so make it count. You don’t need to tell jokes or do anything out of the ordinary, simply explain why your presentation is worth listening to.
Prepare the presentation slides for the audience and not for you. A good speaker will always use their own notes to prompt them and keep them on track; a bad speaker will use the slides as their notes. The slides aren’t supposed to be your notes or your crutch, they are for the audience.
It’s okay to not know the answer to every question. Admit you don’t know, explain why you don’t know and say you will get back to them. The trick is to manage the stress you feel when this happens.
Be that leader for your audience! Guide your audience through your thoughts and keep them engaged. Establishing yourself as a leader will gain respect from your audience and help you get them to take the action you want them to.
It’s absolutely important to remember, the more you try to act like someone you’re not on stage, the more people will see right through you. Gestures should be a reflection of what you’re feeling, helping convey that to your audience. They should come naturally, and should be one of the only unplanned parts of your speech. Make sure your movements are fluid and go along with what you are saying at that exact moment. The more you act like yourself, the more confident you’ll seem, and the more the audience will be able to relate to you.
Joe Robbins is co-founder of CareerWise Recruitment. A graduate of the University of Limerick (Degree in Business Studies, 1985), Joe worked in the UK for five years where he specialised in materials management, production management and plant management for a number of companies.
He returned to Ireland in 1992 to become Operations Manager for a Cork-based start-up, FMC Automotive Division which was subsequently taken over by Snap-on Equipment. Joe managed the business re-location of this company to Shannon in 1997 before setting up CareerWise Recruitment in 1999.
He is a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Mid-West region, and a former Director and Vice President of the Shannon Chamber of Commerce. Joe is former Chairperson of the Sixmilebridge Camogie Club and current Chairperson of the Clare County Camogie Board.
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