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Whether it’s to pitch ideas to clients, showcase your portfolio to a prospective employer, or give updates on the progress of projects to management, giving presentations are often required at the workplace. But when it comes to speaking in public, the thought of it can be extremely nerve-wracking for many.
If you’re one of them that are fearful of making speeches in public, you’re not alone. According to Psychology Today, there are as many as one in four adults that get anxious when they have to speak in front of an audience. But there are many techniques that can help you manage your anxiety to still make a great impression.
We get into five steps to help you better prepare and master the art of making presentations.
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1. Know your audience
The first step to a successful presentation is understanding your audience. Who are you presenting to? What do they already know about the topic? What are their expectations? Tailor your presentation to your audience by using relatable examples to help you better engage with them.
2. Be well-prepared
Preparation is key to a confident and effective presentation. Do sufficient research on your topic to have the relevant data and facts, before organising your content in a logical and coherent manner. Anticipate potential questions and prepare answers with relevant information, so you can sufficiently address those queries if they do come up. Finally, set aside time to rehearse your presentation with trusted friends and colleagues, who can then provide constructive feedback to refine your delivery.
3. Build slides for simplicity
Visual aids, such as slides, can enhance your presentation and make it easier for your audience to follow. Keep your slides simple with the 10-20-30 rule: Use 10 or fewer slides for a presentation under 20 minutes, and use a font size of at least 30 to prevent your slides from being too text-heavy or overloaded with information. Avoid including unnecessary graphics, as they can be very distracting. Use visuals strategically that support your main points and make things clearer and more effective. Also, keep your speech jargon-free so that your presentation will be easier to follow.
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4. Be mindful of non-verbal cues
Communication is not just about what you say, but how you say it. Albert Mehrabian, a researcher of body language, found that in face-to-face conversations, non-verbal cues make up 55% of communication, while verbal cues make up 38%. Words, however, only make up 7%. So it is the non-verbal cues, such as body language, facial expressions and eye contact, that majorly affect your delivery, along with vocal delivery, including tone. When presenting, it is good to make eye contact with your audience and avoid reading from a script.
5. Keep your audience engaged
A captivating presentation is one that keeps the audience engaged throughout. Think of your presentation as a conversation rather than a monologue. Encourage questions, provide opportunities for interaction, and get your audience involved in the story you’re telling. Consider using the 80-20 rule of engagement, where 20% of your slides should be thought-provoking, and the remaining 80% should be insightful or informative. This will help you create a dynamic and interactive presentation that holds your audience’s attention and leaves a lasting impact.
A great presentation is not simply about what is in your slides but about how you say it. You can deliver a confident and effective presentation with these points to help drive the right message home and leave a positive impression.
Take a deep breath, embrace the opportunity, and go rock that presentation!