Creating and delivering a presentation is a key part of any career, and a challenge that many people have to face – whether they feel they are ready or not. Delivering a presentation addresses a key fear for many professionals: public speaking.
When you’re interested and passionate about a topic, it’s easy to talk about it with clarity and confidence to one person or even a few people. But speaking to a room full of people in a more formal setting suddenly becomes overwhelming. It’s easy to leave preparation to the last minute and deliver a lukewarm presentation that doesn’t make a huge impact. Here are some ideas and techniques you can implement to make your presentations impactful, thought-provoking, and a breeze to deliver.
Part 1: Preparing the presentation
‘Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.’
Luck and confidence can be on your side, and winging it may seem second nature, but nothing beats good old-fashioned preparation. It’s hard to know exactly how much preparation goes on behind the scenes, but for many events – it’s a lot. Whilst you don’t need to spend weeks perfecting your presentation, dedicating time to really think about it will make your presentation more impactful.
Think about your topic and how you are going to approach it
Whatever topic you’re talking about, there is a way of making it memorable and interesting. Think about your audience and the purpose of your presentation. What will they find interesting? Do they already know a lot about this topic? Answering these kinds of questions will help you form the basis of the content.
Plot it out in three stages
Beginning. Middle. End.
This is a simple but hugely effective structure. Inform your audience what they are going to learn about (beginning). Present your content (middle). Recap the content (end).
A presentation will flow and topics will move one from one to another effortlessly. Don’t try to push unrelated topics into the middle. Keep everything concise and to the point.
Draft your presentation on paper or a blank Word document, and cover the main points in a few bullet points or paragraphs. Don’t put it straight into a PowerPoint presentation. This will help you to develop your ideas and content without being influenced by design elements.
Get a respected peer to review your presentation/content
This will be someone who you look up to and whose opinion you respect. They need be someone who can give you constructive feedback. It’s scary letting another person judge your presentation; however, this is the best way to develop and grow your presentation skills.
Put it together in a professional way
There are no end of ways you can create your presentation, but here are a few things you should avoid doing:
Having bullet points overcrowd your slides
Using standard clipart or animations
Do aim to do the following in your presentation:
Utilise professional, clear designs
Make use of engaging images
Use large text that’s easy to read
Use data appropriately (don’t overwhelm the audience with complicated charts)
Part 2: Practice, Practice, Practice
‘Sincere practice, makes the impossible possible.’
– Dada Vaswani
Great content is half of the battle. The next step is to deliver your content in a professional, engaging manner. Public speaking can take years to master, but you can get good quickly with the following tips
Work on your volume and tone
The best way to perfect your public speaking is to simply do it. Start practicing in a private space. Just you and your presentation. Become comfortable with your voice. Learn to project your voice so people can hear you clearly. Watch your favourite public speakers and emulate their tone and confidence.
Hone your posture
The way you stand and look during a presentation will make it more impactful. Adopt a strong, but relaxed posture. Avoid putting your hands in your pockets. Wear clothing that makes you look and feel good. Practise making ‘eye contact’ by looking out into the room.
Make sure everything is set up the night before
Take some time to prepare your notes, charge your laptop, and create a backup of your presentation on a pen drive. Make preparations for anything that could go wrong. Wash and iron your clothes. Set an alarm and check for any traffic on your journey.
Be in the moment
Giving a presentation is a privilege. Don’t race to the end. Enjoy being in the moment. Relax and let yourself enjoy each moment. Your audience will engage with you more if you are relaxed, confident, and dedicated to delivering a great presentation. Practise some mindfulness techniques to bring you back to yourself. Take a deep breath. Pause, look around the room. Take a drink of water.
Part 3: Reflect on and review your presentation
‘Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.’
After you’ve delivered your presentation, breathe and sit down. Don’t start looking for flaws or errors in your presentation for a good few hours. Let it sink in, then reflect on it. Think about the positives first. If your presentation was recorded, sit down and review it. Was your audience engaged, did anyone leave any feedback on social media?
Most of all, be proud of yourself. Learning to be in the moment and self-review will help you make your future presentations more engaging and impactful.
Maurice De Castro is the Founder of Mindful Presenter. Maurice is a former corporate executive of some of the UK’s most successful brands. Maurice believes that the route to success in any organisation lies squarely in its ability to really connect with people. That’s why he left the boardroom to create a business helping leaders to do exactly that. Learn more at MindfulPresenter.com