Giving an effective presentation can be nerve wrecking with a lot of preparation that is needed to make it successful. It is important to face your fears of the ‘audience’ which is the judgment of the people you are presenting to. I have given many presentations and the most successful ones were when the audience could relate and understand what the material I was presenting about. Having a lot of images and knowing what to talk about also helps to make the presentation effective. Whether you are new to presenting or have been on the stage numerous times, you can always learn something new and improve your skills.
The following are just basic guidelines to make a presentation effective:
Be Passionate about Your Talk
It is important to know what you are talking about and that is one of the major reasons some presentations succeed over others. If the content of the talk is relating to something you know really well and are passionate about, then it will be easier for you to give an effective presentation. For instance, if you give a talk about a subject you know really well, then you will know what to talk about. Since you are the center of attention, people will be observing everything you say and do when you are on the stage. So you will need to mind your words and portray that you are the expert of the subject you are talking about. If you can convey your passion towards the subject, that would be even better and well deserved.
Lose your fear of other people’s judgments
It is human nature to care about what other people think and sometimes it is really important, for instance, if your presentation is your Viva for the university in which case you would need to prepare a lot before presenting, even if you are the expert on the topic. But if it is a general presentation for the public, we all need to lose our fear of other’s judgments about us. It is important to realize that people will judge us no matter what we do or how we do it. As long as we are doing our best and delivering the knowledge we know best, then we will be truthful to ourselves. Although it does matter how the audience will react, when you are in the public eye, it is important to face the judgments and get on with your life. You would also need to be ready to face any criticisms, answer any questions and other people’s views about your talk. The best way to do this is to be yourself and not place too much importance on what others think of you.
Convey your Talk through images
If you can find a few images for your talk, then, by all means, do it! It will have a much bigger effect than speaking word for word on the slides. It is important not to read in your talk but to learn what you are talking about and place more importance on images and catchy phrases. People relate more to pictures than to words and if your talk complements the images you are presenting then it will stand out and have a bigger impact on the audience.
Just be yourself
The best way to make an impact is to be yourself and let your personality shine through. Whether you are a lecturer or a student, if you are yourself then you will have a bigger effect. It will also lessen the fear of presenting in front of people or the fear of being judged when we are presenting. I have given many presentations since high school and the best ones where when my personality came through and I could be myself on the stage. This is important to convey so that the audience can relate to you and understand your subject matter even better. Don’t let the nerves get the better of you.
The above are just some tips on how to improve presentation skills. Obviously, there are a lot more things involved during presentation such as practicing your moves, words, and gestures, but also knowing the content of your talk really well. It would be advisable to have cue cards on the first few presentations you do, but when you get the hang of it, you will learn to be yourself and learn that saying what you know is good practice for better future presentations. Know that practice makes perfect, so even if you are not very good the first few times or if you are criticised for some of your presentations, it is important not to give up and to keep trying as that is the only way you will master the skill of giving an effective presentation.