Presentation skills are often taken for granted, and developing and practicing these skills will give you a huge advantage. There is nothing less engaging than a dispassionate speaker flipping through slides for a set amount of time. To stand out, follow these key steps and turn an okay presentation into an awesome one!
The fifteen best tips to deliver an exceptional presentation that stands out are:
- Connect with your audience
- Know your audience
- Show that you’re passionate
- Remember Slideshow rules
- Keep it simple
- Focus on Word Strength
- Start Strong
- Finish Stronger
- Make eye contact
- Use your body language
- Use your voice
- Tell a story
If you can learn how to do all of these tips when delivering a presentation, you’re guaranteed to stand out and leave your audience impressed and interested.
While some of these may seem simple, there is actually a lot you should know before you decide you’re ready to present. In this article, we’ll look in-depth at what you can do to have an awesome presentation.
The Art Of Delivering An Awesome Presentation
- Always Keep Your Audience In Mind
Even if you’re not a seasoned presenter or public speaker, you can deliver a great presentation with a bit of work. The most important thing for any good presenter is to know their audience and to try and connect with them.
For example, if you’re giving a presentation to a grade school class it should look very different from a presentation in the boardroom of a Fortune 500 company, even if the material is the exact same.
Many presenters get so caught up in what they are presenting, they forget the most important thing is who they are presenting to.
The very first step, before you start thinking about what you’re going to say or show is to make sure you know the audience that will be receiving the information.
Spend some time researching your audience and their interests, make note of current trends or influences that matter to them.
For the grade-school class, it might be a TV show or book, for the boardroom, it could be an interest in green initiatives or cost-saving measures.
Related Article: 10 Tips on How to conduct an Audience Analysis
You will not be able to connect to an audience if you don’t know them. You don’t need to know each one directly of course, but getting a general idea of what they are interested in, what matters to them, and how that relates to your topic will make you stand out in their minds and they will be more willing to hear what you have to say.
- Be Passionate About What You’re Presenting
This might seem like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised how many disinterested presenters there are. Worse, presenters who fake passion.
An audience can tell from a mile away if a presenter is disinterested with their topic or if they are faking interest in it. Do some research and find ways your topic relates to you and your audience. Find what part of your topic interests you the most and expand on it from there.
It can be hard to be yourself when you’re nervous, but if you’re honest and enthusiastic your audience will respond.
- Keep It Simple And Remember Slideshow Rules
Concentrating on the core message of your presentation is the best way to get your point across without oversaturating your presentation with needless information. This is what we mean by Word Power.
Try and define a maximum of three points you want your audience to walk away remembering and don’t stray too far from the key message. Think about what your elevator pitch on the topic would be, a succinct 30-second summary that would make sense to a stranger being introduced to the topic for the first time, and keep that at the core of your presentation.
The best definition of the “slideshow rule” is the 10-20-30 metric. This metric states that a successful slideshow should contain no more than 10 slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and use a font size no smaller than 30 points.
The point of this rule is to keep the viewer engaged and to stop the presenter from overloading an audience with unnecessary information.
The 30 point rule is also important to stop presenters from trying to cram too much information onto a single slide, which is one of the easiest ways to lose an audience.
During a presentation, slides should be useless without the presenter. It is always better to have less information on a slide and to elaborate directly to the audience than it is to leave them reading off a projector.
If you think more information needs to be delivered in a visual format, create handouts, and give them to your audience after your presentation.
- Start Strong And Finish Even Stronger
The beginning and end of a presentation are the most important parts of the entire thing. If you can start strong and grab your audience’s attention, your presentation will go a lot smoother.
It is nearly impossible to get an audience back once they switch off, so give yourself a few minutes of grace time at the start to entertain them. Starting with a joke, an image that grabs attention on a slide or a story is the best way to do this.
If you’ve failed to execute this perfectly and you feel audience interest dipping, don’t panic. As long as you finish strong you’ll still be memorable even if the beginning wasn’t what you hoped for. The last few minutes with an audience are crucial, leaving a good impression is just as important as striking a good first impression and sometimes even more so. The end of a presentation often sticks in the brain more than the beginning of one, so close strong and leave your audience with a good lasting impression.
Try and make the most impacting statements line up with your closing minutes so you’re not left on a gradual decline. When organizing your presentation you want the beginning and the end to be the strongest parts.
- Your Body Is The Most Important Prop On The Stage
Even if you’ve written a great speech and put together slides, props, or whatever else to make your presentation stand out, it will flop if the presenter is not engaging. Connecting with your audience is more than just knowing what they are interested in while researching and putting your presentation together. It also means smiling and making eye contact while you’re delivering the presentation itself.
One big mistake many presenters make is letting the room be so dark only their slides can be seen. You need to make sure your audience can see you as well as your slides.
Body language comes in here as well. As an example, if you’re crossing your arms you’re sending a closed-off message to your audience. How are you going to expect to connect with them if your body language is sending the opposite message? Try to stay relaxed, keep your shoulders away from your ears, and don’t cross your arms.
Also, pay attention to what your hands are doing, an audience will feel much more comfortable with a hand talker than someone who keeps their hands in their pockets or behind their backs. As for movement, as long as you’re not pacing the stage like a caged animal a bit of casual walking is fine.
Related Article: 11 Best Body Language Tips for Engaging Presentations
If you’re an extremely nervous speaker, address it. An audience will be much more forgiving to a presenter who apologizes for their discomfort than one who lets that nervous energy take over the tone of a presentation with no explanation.
It’s always better for an audience to know you’re nervous than to interpret your nervous actions as hostility or disinterest.
- Use Your Voice And Tell A Story
When listening to a great storyteller you will probably notice they don’t speak in the same volume or tone for the entire story. The most effective presenters are ones who incorporate storytelling into their presentations using the same principles. Varying your pace and emphasizing important parts of your presentation by changing your pitch or tone will make your voice more interesting and hold the interest of your audience.
Related Article: 8 tips for Mastering Great Storytelling
Above, we mentioned one of the best ways to start strong is to tell a story, and that is very true. Additionally, though, your entire presentation should unfold like a story. Strong presentations have a clear beginning, middle, and end as well as a core point, like the moral of a story.
Some of the best presenters will even call back to their opening story in a way that is relevant to the topic at the end of the presentation to give a feeling of cohesion.
- Practice, Prepare and Relax
Naturally, you’ll be a better presenter if you can relax and have fun with your audience. For some people, this is second nature, but if you’re someone who gets stressed or nervous about presenting it takes a bit more work.
You’ll be your most relaxed if you’re confident in what you’re doing. Making sure that you feel prepared and ready will help you relax, and after practicing your presentation a few times you’ll probably start feeling pretty good about it. The worst thing you can do if you’re nervous about presenting is to go in unprepared.
The good news is if you’ve made it this far you’re well on your way to delivering an awesome presentation and you know exactly what you need to do to knock it out of the park.
There are many of us who want to nail that presentation, ace that interview, close that sales deal, or sell that amazing idea to our audience and get more supporters to our cause, however, we fail miserably due to not getting the basics right.
I truly hope you can get the presentation tips listed in this post, as well as go in-depth in the related articles proposed and master each skill at a time. Your Audience will thank you for it!
Good Luck and Keep inspiring!