Once your career has progressed far enough, you’re going to have to start giving presentations. Believe me, I was more scared of this prospect than you were! Although daunting, you can still make your first presentation go down a storm. Like many things in business, it’s all in the preparation. Here are a few easy tips you can use to give a fantastic presentation & Nail Your First Presentation.
The first tip I can offer is to research your subject more than you think you have to. Think about something that you’re very passionate about. Now think about the last time you were talking to someone about that subject. I bet you were a lot more fluent and eloquent than you would be talking about something to do with work. If there’s one point I hear over and over again at public speaking workshops, it’s that you should know your topic like the back of your hand. When you have that knowledge, your speaking will naturally become smoother and more confident. Be sure to think about any questions which are likely to come up too, and have confident, detailed answers for them.
My next tip is more of a warning. Don’t lean on PowerPoint too heavily. I know it can be tempting to let your slides do the talking, especially if you’re inexperienced with giving presentations. Try to keep the text on every slide short and to the point. Three slides should do it. Don’t squeeze them full of text, and for god’s sake don’t read directly off your slides. Make sure they don’t become too packed up with pictures and distracting graphics either. The focus, I’m afraid, should be on the speaker. Every time you think of adding something to a slide, consider whether or not it will help you get your point across. Sure, use the projector to reiterate a few important points. However, you should ensure the slideshow is a visual aid, and not the entire show.
Finally, remember that practice makes perfect. This is true with every skill, and public speaking is no exception. Once you have a solid plan ready, start practicing your presentation in front of a mirror. There are a couple of important advantages here. First of all, the repetition will help you become more and more familiar with your speech. Secondly, it will draw your attention to some of the weaker points of it. Something that might sound great on paper could sound ridiculous when it’s spoken. This is especially true with long, clever-sounding words that you forget how to pronounce! Pay attention with the tone as you rehearse your presentation. It needs to sound professional, without being pompous. If the tone is too relaxed though, you’ll sacrifice the air of authority. Ideally, you’ll want to get to a point where you can make the whole presentation, while barely glancing at your notes.
Take this advice, and your presentation should go off without a hitch. You may feel under pressure, but with a good enough plan very little can go wrong.
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