The basic purpose of a presentation is to put your message along with supporting information across in an effective and clear manner. A presentation is expected to generate emotions of agreement among the audience which in turn should inspire them to take the suggested action.
Many believe that reading a few lines from the PowerPoint slides is what a presentation is all about. This method might get you average grades in school but if adopted in a professional setting, you will find your audience either taking a nap or looking for a way to get out of the room. Reading from slides makes you look unprepared and unprofessional. Slides are meant for illustrating important points, facts and figures and are not necessarily required throughout the presentation.
Top Presentation Tips for Professionals
The first step is to create stellar content that is not just a collection of random facts and figures to back your opinion but sorted in a logical sequence. Your words should first catch the attention of the audience and then intrigue them and makes them want to stay till the very end. So, start on a high note with a bang! First few minutes of your presentation should be strong enough to engage your audience and if you fail to gain their attention, the rest of the presentation might fall on deaf ears. There should be only one main message of your presentation which you should be passionate about and emphasize on. Tell a short story or an anecdote to explain your point and it will become memorable for your audience. Make sure that your story is short else it might distract the audience from your central idea.
One-Slide One-Information Technique
Having too much information on your slides can overwhelm your audience. They might not be able to grasp all of it in such a short time span. You might want to consider distributing hand-outs featuring your key points instead of having all of it on slides. You can also try to edit the slides to make your point more efficiently as using all material and information you collected might have some less relevant and a few off-topic items.
Be Confident and Keep Eye Contact
You must deliver the presentation confidently and remember to maintain an eye contact with the audience. Practice your content so that when you deliver it, you know which parts need to emphasized and where to take pause. Throw in a blank slide to take their attention off the screen and back to you to deliver a persuasive point. Talk about your topic enthusiastically and do not forget that interacting with the audience. Be open about taking questions from the audience and answer them respectfully without sounding like “Mr. Know-it-all.” This interaction would help you connect with your audience at a higher level, you would also come across as a human, and not just a machine programmed to deliver the presentation.
Be Visible to All
You must not hide behind the podium the whole time. You may start from there but move away from it as you progress to avoid any barrier between you and the audience. Humor, if used appropriately can make your presentation drastically more interesting. Always arrive early and check out the venue, it helps you reduce the nervousness and adapt to the environment. Something or the other may go wrong, just do not panic. Be calm and go into impromptu mode confidently. Stay hydrated and visit the restroom before your presentation and also carry a small bottle of water, as dry mouth can also cause anxiety.
Check out this infographic from WalkerStone to learn more about important Dos and Don’ts on delivering a presentation. Finally, dress up appropriately. Now it does not mean that you need to wear a tuxedo but wearing casuals might interpret that you are not serious about it.