The ability to speak in front of an audience is one of the most powerful skills that you can ever develop. If you have something to present in front of people, how you present will hold huge weight to what you are actually presenting. It is true, presenting is a skill; anyone can prepare, stand up and present but only powerful speakers will be able to command and inspire an audience.
The number of things you could achieve by commanding attention and getting people to listen when you stand up in front of them is limitless. I have seen people with impressive CVs fail to move a crowd. I have seen people with limited achievements convey a message that moves the whole audience. If you want to impact the people listening to you when presenting, you have to learn to become a powerful presenter.
Do not be overwhelmed though, public speaking and presenting is a skill that can be developed with time. To help you improve the way you speak in front of an audience, here are five tips to present with power and drive your message through:
1. Be in control from the very second you walk in-front of the audience
Your presentation begins the very second that you walk up on stage. You can lose and win over some listeners just by the way you walk up on to the stage. So, before you are even announced, you have to be absolutely ready. It is normal to develop nerves right at that moment. The most important thing is to be in control of your nerves and be in charge of the audience from the very beginning of your presentation. So, as you are being announced, take a deep breath, or five, then make your way to the stage. You do not have to rush up there, take your time to make yourself comfortable then walk out. Remember to acknowledge any positive reaction you receive while you make your way to the stage, this can generate and maintain a powerful momentum before you even begin speaking.
2. Open with conviction and finish strong
You should know your opening and closing by heart. The first words that come out of your mouth should have an impact and the last words should leave an impression. You will not be able to achieve this if you use notes for your opening and closing statements. It is impossible!
Powerful speakers open with a quote or a joke, anything that intrigues and captures the attention of the audience will do. A joke can be risky if the audience does not get it, so personally, I only start with a joke when I know the audience. It is preferable, to begin with a powerful quote that inspires the audience to listen from the very first second. At the end of it all, you must finish strong. Your last words should land right on the mark and linger on people’s minds long after you have finished your presentation.
I will say it again, know your opening and closing remarks. Rehearse them. Do not take a chance when it comes to driving the main message home. When you fail to finish strong, your message gets lost with you leaving the stage.
3. The audience will believe if you believe
Whatever you have to say, you have to believe in it yourself before the audience can take a bite. When you believe in what you are saying, you naturally speak with conviction and determination. The listeners can feel this and when you are convinced they become convinced. You can never persuade the audience effectively if you do not share the belief yourself. So, to deliver a powerful presentation, go through your content and mark out the parts that you feel strongly about. During the presentation, make these your punchlines and deliver them like you mean it.
4. Make eye contact with people in the audience
I know you have probably heard of the “look at the back of the room” tactic and I say forget it. Instead, you should pick out specific audience members and speak to them directly. This is much easier and more efficient in developing a connection with the audience. The more connected you are to the people that you are talking to, the more comfortable you will be throughout your presentation and that is the backbone of a strong and powerful presentation.
However, do not make the mistake of focusing on just a few selected audience members. Move from one person to another. A good strategy will be to connect with one person until you finish delivering the sentence before moving on to the next. Doing this will ensure you work the room and every member of the audience will feel like you were speaking personally to them. This is a powerful strategy beyond measure.
5. Speak slowly with a loud and clear voice
One of the most important qualities when presenting is the projection of your voice. Everyone has to hear and follow what you are saying. When the audience has trouble hearing you they tend to lose interest and drift away. Speaking slowly with a deep (not shouting) and clear voice is an important way of making sure the audience is following your presentation. Employing this tactic will do two things for you - engage the audience and calm your nerves.
The audience is always rooting for the speaker who can stand before and speak in a commanding and convincing manner. They will hang on to each and every word that leaves your mouth. Some of these tips may seem obvious but you will be surprised at the number of speakers and presenters who mess up over and over again when presenting. Take your time to read through each tip and apply them all for an amazing and powerful presentation.