Why do some presentations and public talks fascinate us and make us re-watch them over and over, while others bore us after the first two minutes of speaking? How to make a presentation that will capture attention and win hearts? Let’s have a look at the secrets revealed by professional speakers that will help your presentation break the limits of yet another academic assignment and become the work you will be genuinely proud of. And if you think that presentations are just not for you, we are going to prove you wrong. As with most of the activities in this world, the secret lies in a set of techniques and skills.
Good Presentation Skills and How to Acquire Them
1. Talk about a subject that is important for you.
We all have been to presentations and research paper defense speeches that are held mainly for the sake of it. The presentation usually looks like this: one student delivers boring information, which is hard to memorize and, therefore, comprehend, so he or she is reading from a research report. The rest of the class is waiting for it to be over.
If you believe that presentations should be different, talk about things you genuinely like – at least the process will be a lot more fun for you from the preparation stage to the very presentation.
2. Transform your nervous energy into enthusiasm.
The advice may sound controversial to you, but drinking a cup of strong coffee and listening to upbeat music will spark up your energy levels. On one hand, this can make you more anxious, but given the fact you are already nervous because of the pending presentation, the aim is to redirect your nervous excitement or excited nerves into something fruitful.
However, we should warn you that if you are not confident in your ability to redirect nervous jitters into an energetic performance, probably you should stick to chamomile tea before your presentation.
3. Become an altruist for five minutes.
Okay, using this overly pretentious phrase, we are saying that you should be concerned with the wants and needs of your audience while presenting. You may be excited by the sole thought of scientists finding a new way of forming synapses in our minds, but are you sure that an unprepared audience will be able to withstand a stream of fancy scientific words pouring on them for 10 minutes?
Good presentations skills include not only the ability to find interesting information or to speak well, but also to find out the audience’s needs, to read their reaction and adjust your speech accordingly.
4. Concentrate on the main message.
We bet you have been to presentations where the speaker couldn’t set the key message clearly. How would you know? If you left, thinking, “So what was it all about?” this means that the speaker failed in this important characteristic. Make sure you can communicate the main message of your presentation very briefly. Some suggest that you try to phrase it using no more than 15 words, while others suggest that you can write it on the back of a business card (using your regular handwriting, of course, not in a super-tiny form).
Whichever rule you choose, remember to be completely honest with yourself and cut out all the unnecessary information from your presentation. It seems that “the more you have to say, the better” only applies when you are a speaker. Your audience will thank you!
5. Watch your body language.
It’s normal to be nervous when speaking in public. This fear is listed as one of the most common. In fact, we believe that unless a person does something specific and gives presentations often, it doesn’t go away. We are social creatures, and we are wired to react to opinions of others about us. However, this shouldn’t justify a grim face, an unimpressed voice, and weak posture.
We are not saying to improve your posture within a day, but make sure you greet your audience with a broad smile and upbeat voice. Even if you are delivering a rather complicated speech, a rich and varied intonation will help your listeners to keep track of the information you are delivering.
6. Start with a blast.
You need to catch your listeners off-guard and grab their attention. Imagine that the brain is working like a huge stock market – there’s always something going on, phones are calling, people are talking, someone’s trying to persuade a new customer. We are always under attack of endless sensory input. That’s why you need to persuade your listeners that the information you are going to deliver is crucial to them.
To do so, refer to attention-grabbing devices or the storytelling technique from the following point.
7. Tell stories to make your readers fall in love with your presentation.
You have probably heard that the human brain loves to hear stories more than once. Well, we are not going to be original here, because it’s true and has been proven by lots of different experiments and extensive research data. We love stories because they are easy to remember, and our brains believe that they carry important information.
In the evolutionary process, our minds evolved to remember where (location of the story) who (the main character) did what (plot). If you manage to build your presentation around these milestones, you will manage to make an interesting presentation on any topic, be it nuclear physics or unicorns.
8. Remember the 10-20-30 rule for a visually aided presentation.
You don’t want your presentation to be a lullaby for your listeners, right? Remember that your presentation should contain no more than 10 slides, should not last more than 20 minutes, and use a font size no less than 30. Remembering this simple rule is half of the success in the process of how to make a presentation outstanding.
Remember that a slideshow is more a visual aid than anything else, and they are meant for the presenter. If your audience can read everything from the slides, why are they even listening to you? Moreover, when your slides contain the whole text of your report, your audience won’t be able to read from them for obvious reasons. Remember the font size!
9. Breathe and go for it.
Coping with your presentation anxiety is not an easy task. The first couple of your presentations won’t likely be awesome, but neither will they be awful. Good presentations skills are acquired in the process of giving presentations; you can’t learn them from a textbook only. Repeat that to yourself every time you think you have failed completely. Even if you stammer or forget what to say next, be honest and tell your audience that you are nervous, or, which is even better, joke about it if you can. Your listeners are people, and most of them can relate to being nervous in front of an audience.
And if you manage to become relatable, you manage to become understandable and, therefore, interesting.
What are your awesome secrets of How to Create Great Presentations? Share them in the comment section, and let’s spread the knowledge together!