Improving presentation skills

By Ricky Asher

Standing in front of a room of strangers, colleagues or even family may be daunting to some.

According to a survey by the Washington Post, 25.3% of people in the US are afraid of speaking in front of large groups of people!

There are many guides available to help you improve your presentation skills, such as Hubspot’s free guide available here. But, before you jump into creating your presentation and preparing yourself, read through the tips that we have identified to help you succeed:

1) Prepare for your presentation
Don’t wait until it’s time to present to get your house in order. Before you walk into the room, make sure to know your content and have a clear understanding of what your presentation looks like, it’s flow, and the topic you’re going to be presenting. Don’t wait until crunch time to get your house in order. Before walking into the room, ensure you know your content, have a clear vision of how your presentation flows and completely understand the topic you’re presenting.

3) Research your audience and show them passion
Researching your audience will help you feel more comfortable when presenting. You’ll be able to leverage off what you know about those in front of you and it’ll make you feel like you already know who they are. Let your passion shine through to your audience by being honest, confident and enthusiastic. This will help you engage with them.

4) Know your goal

Keep your presentation simple and to the point. Be sure to know why you’re presenting and what you’re looking to achieve when you exit the room. Stay focused on your core message and as you develop the presentation, keep the end goal in mind.

5) Tell stories, but keep to your time limit
Audiences love stories and even better, love conversations. Your presentation needs to contribute to the point you’re trying to get across and your end goal. Be sure to use this story to connect emotionally with your audience and avoid unnecessary detail.

6) Practice
Never enter a room with a presentation that you’ve never seen before. Write down notes before if necessary, present it to yourself in the mirror, a friend, a family member, and make sure to know what is next on each slide. Double check your technology before you go on stage – you never know when a battery is flat!

7) Visuals, visuals, visuals!
There are several visual presentation templates that you can find online to use and it’s important to make use of the right one, depending on the type of presentation and your audience. Make sure to connect your visuals with the subject of your presentation but avoid making them too distracting.

8) Leave your audience with a memory
Whether it’s a physical handout or a message, be sure to leave your presentation with a way for your attendees to refer to you afterwards but most importantly, to remember who you are, where you’re from and what you want.

9) Reinforce the message
If you think your audience remembers the importance of slide one, by the time you arrive at slide ten, think again! Your presentation should consistently allude to your key message and the best concluding slide is one which reinforces your core take-out. Don’t be shy to remind the room who you are and why you’re there.

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