If You Want to Be an Unforgettable Presenter, Master These 4 Techniques
Here are four ways you can knock your next presentation out of the park, whether you're in person or online.
Regardless of your industry or title, you’re going to have to give a presentation at some point in your career. It doesn’t matter whether you love the limelight or avoid it like the plague — sooner or later, someone will want you to share information in front of a group.
Being asked to give a presentation, whether in person or a virtual setting, is great for your career. After all, if you’ve been asked to speak, it means you have some quality information worth relaying to others. However, the way you present your information can make or break your presentation’s success … and possibly your next career move.
With that in mind, here is a quick primer on how you can level up your presentation abilities before your next business talk.
1. Adapt to the setting
It’s no secret that the modern world has gone virtual. The pandemic sped up an already ongoing process of shifting to a cloud-based work environment. While remote work has numerous advantages, there are a few distinct drawbacks as well. One of the biggest is the challenge of transitioning from in-person presentations to virtual ones.
Delivering a presentation online is a completely different animal from the in-office version of the activity. It requires technical know-how and communication with others via a platform like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Meet.
Adjusting to an online presentation format requires time, tools, and training. Rather than everyone trying to figure out best practices on their own, take a team approach. Find monthly training seminars on online presentation skills for individuals and groups, or something similar. Your and your team can learn practical strategies for adapting an in-person presentation to an online setting and boost your overall presentation literacy.
2. Get personal
When planning your content, it’s important to include an element of personalization in each presentation. After all, your presentation is an opportunity to connect with your audience. Otherwise, you may as well pre-record it.
Therefore, treat each presentation as what it truly is — a live performance for real human beings. Include personal stories that are applicable and succinct. Add in a dash of humor when the occasion warrants.
Above all, show that you’re passionate about what you’re presenting. At times this may be natural. At other times, you may have to dig deep to find a uniquely personal element to share. Either way, look for ways to inject each presentation with your own energy.
3. Interact with your audience
Once again, a presentation is unique in the sense that you’re working with a live audience. Even though you have the microphone (quite literally), it doesn’t mean you should leave everyone out in the cold.
Instead, look for ways to get your audience involved. Ask thought-provoking questions. Even if you can’t have a roundtable discussion, relevant questions can get your audience engaged and interested.
In addition, make an effort to condense your presentation into bite-size takeaways. Offer these as you go and then re-emphasize them at the end. This shows a distinct effort to help the members of your audience grasp what you have to say. It’s an inclusive move that helps them remain engaged and focused.
4. Bring the best version of yourself
Once you have the content and presentation details down, it’s time to take a minute to consider your own performance. If you head into a presentation hungry or tense, it won’t do you any favors.
Sure, every presentation can lead to a case of the jitters. When (not if) that happens, remind yourself of the all-American novelist Mark Twain’s classic line: “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.”
Rather than trying to avoid your fear, look for ways to manage it. For example, make sure to:
Get a good night’s rest before your presentation.
Eat something beforehand to avoid speaking on an empty stomach.
Do some deep breathing or read through a muscle relaxation script while you wait to start.
Take time to compose yourself beforehand. It will give you a calm edge as you launch into your presentation.
When it comes to giving presentations, it’s easy to focus on obvious things like rehearsing your remarks and preparing visuals. The truth is, though, you need more than repetition and good content to truly deliver a memorable and actionable speech. There is a performance side of things you’ll want to address as well.
Take some time for reflection. Consider past presentations you have given. Look for areas of strength, such as a personal story or a compelling takeaway you included. Also, look for areas where you fell short, such as failing to engage your listeners or a lackluster attempt to reproduce an in-person presentation for an online audience. Once you have an idea of where you stand, you can begin to set goals, hone your skills, and set a course that will take your presentations (and your career) to the next level of success.
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