Presentations can be stressful but can also yield great results when you’ve prepared and presented in the best way possible. It’s normal to feel nervous and most people can’t help but feel anxious but there are a few things you can control. Here are ten things you should always do when giving a presentation that’ll make everything easier:
- Identify your objective: What’s your end goal for giving this presentation? Is it a sales pitch that will help you reach your annual revenue goals if you close it? Having a clear objective will help you stay on track when you’re preparing for and delivering your presentation. When reviewing the content you’re using for your presentation, regularly ask yourself if each piece of information you’re using contributes to your objective.
- Research: Verify all facts you are using to prove a point. Verified facts will help you gain credibility and will let your audience know that you know what you’re talking about. Focus on picking sources that your audience will be more likely to trust. The sources you choose to gather information from should have authority, be accurate, be objective, and be current. The sources you use also need to cover what your audience needs to hear and needs to be well-maintained. Your quality of sources will help you increase the level of trust you have between you and your audience.
- Tell a story: Humans respond to stories. Stories are an effective way to prove a point while tapping into the emotions of your audience. Stories are also a great way to keep your presentation flowing and memorable. Be real and authentic when choosing a story to tell. The story you choose to tell should help your audience make the connection between what they’re doing and the big idea of your presentation. One way to make your stories stick is to use metaphors. Metaphors are an effective way to communicate ideas and concepts to your listeners.
- Eliminate fluff: You will not be rewarded for extreme wordiness. Are you putting up an entire essay on your PowerPoint or have five unnecessary slides? Focus on your objective and ask yourself if every slide helps you accomplish your objective. If it doesn’t then eliminate it from your slide deck.
- Typos: Know the difference between your and you’re. Typos, as small as they may seem, will quickly tarnish your credibility. Review all of your slides and check for spelling errors and grammatical errors. It never hurts to get a second pair of eyes to read over all of your content and what you plan on sharing.
- Know your space: Having an understanding of the space you’re giving your presentation makes a big difference in your delivery. Are you asked to present from a podium? Do you have a large stage? Find ways to utilize the space you’re given if possible.
- Design: Have you ever seen a cheesy logo? How about a poorly designed slide deck? They’re often hard to read and really distracting. If you want to know if your design is cohesive then work with a couple graphic designers and ask for their feedback. They’ll quickly tell you what you need to change.
- Rehearse: What separates the amateurs from the professionals is the amount of quality practice put in. Choose to be a pro. A fighter can’t do anything in the ring he/she hasn’t done in practice. Retired US Navy Seal Commander Richard Marcinko said, “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in combat.” The same goes for presentations. Rehearse your presentation at least three times and record yourself on camera when you do it. You’ll find out what’s working and what is not working before you deliver your presentation.
- Breathe: Before you take the stage or whatever platform you’re on, take a moment to breathe. There’s no need to panic because of the time you’ve taken to prepare. There is power in pausing before your step forward to present and there is power in pausing during your presentation. When you pause and take a breath, you will be able to regain your focus and also give your audience to process some of the information you are sharing with them.
- Bring energy and confidence: When you take the stage, have confidence in your preparation. Be aware of your emotions and your mood when standing in front of everyone who will be listening to what you have to say. Your audience will feed off of the energy you give them. It’s game time to show them what you’ve been working on and keep your goal in mind.
Control the factors you can control to the best of your ability and you will get the results you expect. By doing the ten things listed above, you will take your presentation game to the next level and improve your communication skills.