Five ways to improve your presentation

Here are five things you can do to ensure that your presentation is the very best it can be. If you follow these tips you should find that you give a presentation that won’t be forgotten.

1. Be prepared!

It sounds obvious, but the better prepared you are, the better your presentation will be.

What is your objective? Why are you giving this presentation, and who are you giving it to?

Once you’ve identified your audience you can work at customising the presentation to them.

For instance, how much knowledge do they have about what you will be talking about? It’s a good idea to tailor your language to the audience – for instance, if they don’t know much about your subject then don’t use jargon that they might not understand. If you have been given a format to follow then use this to structure your presentation, otherwise work out the best order to present in.

Think about when you will give out any handouts, when you will show slides and when you will take questions. When you’ve prepared your presentation, practise practise practise!

2. Overcome presentation nerves

Almost everybody is nervous about giving presentations, and if you’re a bundle of nerves in the run-up to yours, then remember you’re not alone. You should find that being properly prepared will go a long way towards calming your nerves, but it is quite likely that you’ll still feel anxious.

A really good skill to acquire to help with your nervousness is the ability to visualise. Visualisation has been found to be extremely helpful in a number of situations, and particularly so for situations which cause you to be nervous.

First of all, relax, and then imagine yourself giving the presentation, as though it were actually happening, and imagine it going really well. Imagine your audience responding well and you feeling calm and in control. Do this a few times before your presentation.

When you are actually giving the presentation, take slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. Move around to use up excess nervous energy, and speak slowly.

Try to frame the presentation in your mind as a positive, rather than a negative, experience.

3. Use body language

Researchers reckon that body language is an incredibly important part of communication, so use this to your advantage. When presenting, stand tall and square, and when you move, do so with purpose.

Be natural and friendly, and make eye contact with members of your audience. Try to use gestures, and make them bigger than you would in normal conversation.

Don’t fold your arms in front of you as this is seen as a blocking action, and try not to put your hands in your pocket – it might feel comfortable but it will look too casual.

When speaking to your audience, lean forward slightly to draw them to you.

4. Use your information wisely

Nobody is going to learn anything if you bombard them with information, so you need to be succinct and to the point.

You should present a maximum of three points for a ten-minute presentation – this will give you time to cover these topics properly and ensure that everybody understands. And rather than just telling the audience facts, try to involve them so that they learn and remember.

5. Use your visuals wisely

Don’t overload your audience with visuals. The point of visuals is to illustrate your words, not to speak instead of you.

Don’t have pages and pages of words for your audience to read on overhead projectors, and when you do use words make sure they are written in a large enough font for everybody in the room to read.

Where possible use pictures instead of words, and try to make them eye catching.

Don’t put up lots of hard-to-read charts, think about how you can show your information in an easy-to-understand format.

Suze Burns

Suze Burns

Think about the colours you use in your visuals. Make sure that if more than one colour is used in one picture or chart, they are distinctly different and easy to distinguish.

Remember these five points and you will be on your way to giving a presentation to be proud of.

Suze Burns is a writer living in Somerset.


Published On: 7th May 2012

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