Great ideas are useless if you are unable to present them to people in a clear, concise and confident manner. This makes the ability to articulate information to an audience one of the most important skills you can possess.
There are plenty of sites and blog posts offering tips for improving presentation skills. While these tips are certainly helpful, they tend to be basic pieces of advice, such as looking up when you speak and keeping your hands out of your pockets. In an effort to take these tips and your presentation skills a step further, here is a list of five advanced tips for succeeding in your next presentation.
1. Pay Attention to Your Non-Verbal Communication
What you say is only a fraction of the message that you are delivering.
Your body stance, hand gestures and facial expression are all non-verbal forms of communication that impact your presentation.
When you stand in front of a group of people to present, you should stand with your feet roughly shoulder width apart with your head held high and your shoulders square. Also, your hands should stay above your waistline, and folded rather than keeping them in your pockets or crossing your arms.
Pointing to items during your presentation to draw attention to them, using your fingers to signify numeric portions, and using your hands to indicate size and shape are all appropriate hand gestures.
As for facial expressions, maintaining eye contact and keeping your brow high indicates that you are enthusiastic and interested in the topic. Also, smiling from time to time can make you seem even more passionate about the information.
2. Plan Segues in Your Presentation
While avoiding memorization helps to make a speech sound natural, segues are an area that is exempt from this common rule of thumb.
If you don’t plan the transitions from one idea to the next in a presentation, you will likely default to filler words such as “um” and uh”. These filler words take away from your presentation’s focus and make you sound unsure of yourself.
In order to avoid filler words, plan and practice your transitions ahead of time. Transitions that seamlessly relate one topic to another improve the overall quality of your delivery and can easily be developed through practice and preparation.
3. Record Yourself
Even a well-planned presentation may sound different in your mind than it does when you actually present it.
Recording yourself can help you determine whether there is a discrepancy and make improvements on your presentation’s delivery. Things such as pitch, pronunciation and volume are all nuances that can be analyzed by listening to a recording of yourself. Utilizing your phone or computer as a recording device will allow you to practice and correct these issues.
4. Inflection Is Key
Zig Ziglar’s book, Secrets of Closing a Sale, points to the importance of inflection while trying to sound convincing in a sales setting.This same idea holds true for presentations, as the way in which you say something is just as important as what you are saying. When you listen to the recording of your presentation, ask yourself whether your tone of voice and the words you emphasize send the message you actually want to deliver.
Inflection, or the modification of word’s pitch and tone, plays a large role in conveying the meaning of a sentence. For example, emphasizing the final word of the sentence “you did not” changes it from a simple statement to a question. Taking these ideas into consideration when planning for a presentation will ensure your sentences send the intended message.
5. Dress to Impress
When dressing for a presentation it is important to consider your audience.
If you are presenting to your company’s board members, a sharp suit and tie will express professionalism. More informal presentations, such as those at a conference, may be more suited to business casual attire. Also, take into consideration the color of the presentation room and your PowerPoint or Keynote slides. Clashing colors can take away from the overall appeal of your presentation.
Technology is another element that often gets overlooked when it comes to planning presentation attire. If your presentation requires that you wear a microphone, then you need a place to clip it, like a tie or a jacket lapel. Also, if your presentation is going to be videotaped, avoid stripes as they tend to look blurry and out of focus on video playbacks.
There are many factors that go into delivering an engaging and successful presentation. If there is one theme that you take away from the aforementioned tips it should be preparation. While there are some aspects of presentations that you cannot control, these tips can go a long way toward helping your prepare for the elements that you can.
About the Author: Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for an inbound marketing company and blogs in her free time at MarCom Land. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business, and Spin Sucks. You can connect with her on Twitter: @Alicia_Lw.
Image courtesy of VladKol.