In almost all the business roles today, presentation skill has become a core competency and an inevitable prerequisite for any reasonable job. One of the popular fears among the people, after dogs, snakes heights, water, is public speaking. This category of people usually experience abnormal heartbeats, cold sweats, shivering and the worst, low or high blood pressures. Contrary to this, presentation skill can be developed and achieved through practice and observation. It’s exactly like learning to ride the bike. Here are some quick, tried and tested tips, if followed carefully they will make you a powerful presenter as well as an influential public speaker.
Why do we give the presentations?
Basically, there are four purposes of giving a presentation. Firstly, to inform your audience about what you know. In other words, it is called informative presentation. Secondly, to train, all the effectiveness of teaching and training activities for students and staff solely depend on the presentation skill of the teacher or trainer. The third purpose of giving a presentation is to persuade the public, our politicians are a very good example of that. During the election campaign, the politicians give persuasive presentations to convince the public to give them the vote. Lastly, sales people give presentations about their products to the customer and clients for the marketing.
Before preparing any presentation one must be clear about the purpose of giving the presentation. Because, if you know clearly what you have to deliver it will help you find how to do it.
Once the objective is clearly defined, now you should focus the contents of your presentation. It means what is the scope of your talk. What is included and excluded. The contents must be according to the objective and the need of the audience. Through brainstorming, keeping in view your knowledge, audience and the topic, the parameters can be defined to cover the topic extensively.
Jim Rohn, the American motivational speaker and writer, says, “Consider your audience”. It means who they are, what they already know about the topic, how old they are and what language and style they prefer etc. Once you are fully aware of all the facts it will help you tailor your presentation according to the needs of your audience.
•Time and length
People have their peak and low time according to the time of the day. Some people tend to be more active and alert in the morning. Therefore, if you present in the morning you might get positive feedback from your audience. On the other hand after lunch and in the evening people are likely to be drowsy and may not focus on what the presenter says. There, audience should be energized through activities and questions to keep them awake. Whereas, length means the time you are allotted to present. If it exceeds the timeline, you will lose the interest of the audience and the required purposes may not be achieved.
One of the important components of success of any presentation is its structure. About the structure of the presentation, Jim Rohn says “Tell your audience what you are going to say, then say it all and at the end tell them again what you have just told them. In other words, it means introduction, body of the presentation and summary.
•Take care of yourself
The presenter’s health, mood, feelings and emotions matter a lot because if you are suffering from cough, sore throat or otherwise sad and sleepy you can not give a good first impression. So it’s a good idea to take care of your health to avoid any physical or mental distraction.
•Practice makes perfect
Mock presentations given to a group of friends, family members, colleagues or in front of a mirror, will help you grasp the subject and learn the content. As it is said, practice makes perfect. Rehearsal of your presentation will also increase your confidence.
Verbal Communication Tips
The first and the foremost phenomena in verbal communication is the voice of the presenter. If the presenter has a loud audible voice the message will get across clearly and completely to the audience. Usually, low pitched voices result in the failure of the presentation and the audience loses the interest in that presenter. Try to speak loud and clear but, not so loud that you cause your audience a headache due to your thundering voice.
Pace means the speed of your lecture, speech or presentation. As a matter of fact, the listeners have their listening and understanding speed and the speakers have their speaking pace. Both the speeds must align with each other. Therefore, speak in a variety of paces if something is really important or serious, slow down to make your audience understand it. If you are repeating a point or giving a summary of your presentation then you might go with a faster pace. Use a variety of paces but make sure what you are delivering your audience is receiving it in the same way.
Pause is a short period in which something such as a sound or an activity is stopped before starting again. Pauses are like the punctuation marks in the written language. We use pauses or break the sequence of talk so that we might separate the most important to the least important. Besides, pauses create an impact of your words on the minds of the listeners. If you are describing a difficult point or delivering an informative presentation which is complex too, then you must stop briefly at certain points. Pauses give time to the audience to think, realize and absorb the information you are showering upon them.
Intonation is the change of voice as per the nature of the message you want to deliver. Communication experts believe words are lifeless unless we add our vocal variety in it. It is your voice that mixes up your words with feelings and emotions. This mixed voice is called intonation. The pitch and tone of your voice help you make the right intonation according to the message you deliver. For example, if you pass any test or exam you say loudly; Yaaahhhoooo! Now this interjection is expressed through your emotional voice which is intonation. Someone rightly said the voice that comes from heart has a deep impact on the listeners; this voice of the heart is in fact your intonation. As a powerful communicator express your feelings and emotions through your voice and give the heart touching presentations.
•Avoid Artificial Fillers
Artificial filler is either the repetition of a word or a sentence for example, ok, you know, fine etc or uttering some meaningless words like errrrr, aaaah, ehhh etc. Artificial fillers are a must-avoid during the presentation because they make your presentation funny or boring for the audience. A presenter must not repeat a word or a sentence time and again habitually.
•Humour During Presentaion
Well, it depends on the audience and the presentation environment because some presentations are delivered in a strict and serious environment where it is not appropriate at all to use humour or make the audience laugh. On the other hand, if it’s a friendly environment or training then a presenter must entertain the audience through some relevant jokes or funny stories. As it is said “Laughter is the best medicine” and if a presenter makes the audience smile and laugh they will remain active, energetic and will not feel bored. Do not criticize anyone or make fun of anyone of your audience. This might worsen the situation as most of the people never like to be laughed at.
Nonverbal Communication Strategies
Nonverbal communication is the communication through body language which is in deed more powerful than the verbal type of communication. As a presenter, you are under the spot light. Every one looks at you during the session that’s why a presenter should stand at a place where he is visible to each and every individual sitting in front of him. During the presentation you must not stand still at one place and deliver the whole presentation there, rather you should change the position according to the situation but at every position your audience must be able to see you clearly. Never turn your back towards your audience.
Posture means position of body or the way in which someone usually holds his shoulders, neck and back, or a particular position in which someone stands or sits etc. As you present you must mind your posture, it should be active and energetic. Lazy and inactive postures result in the concentration loss of the audience. Not only this, but the speaker becomes less reliable and unauthentic. Stand straight and confidently, put your shoulders at a relaxed but active positive. Positive postures give a very strong nonverbal message to your audience.
The basic difference between speech and presentation is that during the speech the speaker stays at one place and talks but in the presentation the presenter is animated. The presenter moves around in the room purposefully, walks and talks with the audience. Therefore, a presenter must move but the movement has to be purposeful not a continuous movements or the nervous movements. While moving do not lose the eye contact with the audience. Move around but keep looking at the audience.
During the presentation, your hands communicate effectively as well. In fact, your hands give meanings to your words and create an impact on the audience. There is a complete language known as Sign Language which is mostly based on hands signals. Do not cross your hands or rest them at the back just leave your arms loose by your sides and as you talk according to the words, sentence or message use your hands and fingers to make your message more meaningful and impressive.
It is said, “Face is the index of mind”. Whatever we think it comes on the face through these facial expressions we communicate the deepest thoughts of our mind and feelings of our hearts. If you look at someone and smile, the other person will also smile in response and if you look at a child angrily, the child will be afraid of you. Our facial muscles make our face expressions and the facial muscles get activated when either we arouse our feelings and emotions in a certain way. Express yourself through your facial muscles and connect with your audience deeply and give a memorable presentation.
Your eyes are your lighthouse. As you talk do not look at the walls, fans or tube lights but the people sitting in front of you. When you look in to the eyes of the people it shows that you are giving them your attention and in response your audience also looks at you. Moreover, eye contact works like an infrared channel that transfers data from your mind to the minds of the listeners. But do not look at one person for more than 5 seconds because it might make him/her uneasy and it will also turn your eye contact to staring.
Finally, be confident and practice all the points carefully. Fake it, until you make it and then it will become your natural presentation style.