Presentation Skills Training: How to Become a Powerhouse Public Speaker

10% of the human population has a phobia of public speaking. For some, it’s akin to going to the dentist: they start to experience severe symptoms of anxiety and dread.

In fact, some people can’t bring themselves to speak publicly. Instead, they refuse to give a presentation at all. Even though it may impact their career, the idea of public speaking is too much.

Whether you’re terrified or thrilled at the concept of public speaking, presentation skills training is crucial. You need to be able to convey critical ideas, persuade stakeholders, and educate your listeners.

It’s a key part of your career innovation, but it’s also important for your personal growth as well. Communicating your ideas to large groups makes you a better citizen, community member, and friend.

That’s why we’ve assembled a guide to presentation skills training to help you become a better public speaker. Let’s get started!

1. It’s Not A Speech

If you have any experience with public speaking, you’ve likely accrued some tips over time. Experts will advise you to take pauses to let your points sink in, make eye contact with audience members, and memorize your speech ahead of time.

This approach won’t work for presentation skills training. When you give a presentation, you’re engaging in a two-way conversation. Depending on the formality of the environment, you may be interrupted with questions, comments, and additions.

In this case, it’s important to know your material well enough to go off-the-cuff. Prepare for potential questions, and know that it’s okay to admit that you don’t know.

When preparing for a presentation, treat your slides or notes like an outline. You—and your audience—will color within those lines. Even if you’re working off the same source material, no two presentations will be exactly the same.

2. Speak with Authority

In many corporate environments, extroverts tend to win more promotions, accolades, and networking opportunities. They may be less qualified, in some cases, than their introverted peers.

The differentiating factor is that they can communicate their ideas well and often. Sometimes, these ‘ideas’ are social pleasantries that get their name in the running for different positions via networking.

At other times, these ideas are what win revenue for the company, persuade stakeholders, and solidify a team together. Whether you’re extroverted or not, you can still take a tip from the world’s best public speakers: communicate with authority.

No speaker knows everything on a topic. One of the reasons that many people are scared to give a presentation is the fear that they will look stupid.

What if someone asks a question they don’t know how to answer? What if someone corrects you because you got something wrong?

These are legitimate fears. But it’s important to take it all in stride. Remember that it’s a conversation, not a performance!

Practice Ahead of Time

Start by recording your initial presentation. While it’s not a speech, it’s still best to eliminate nervous tics from your performance. Once you’ve watched the recording, note down what you should work on.

Different things can undercut your authority as a presenter. One of our top presentation tips is eliminating filler words. ‘Um’, ‘I think’, ‘ah’, and ‘maybe’ are common culprits.

It’s also important to pay attention to how you phrase things. Take a look at this sentence. “I think maybe the company should alter its approach to boosting, um, our revenue in the third quarter, but I don’t know if that made any sense.”

Does that sentence spark confidence? Probably not! The sentence was filled with qualifiers and concluded with the speaker audibly questioning their own communication skills.

Your audience already knows that you don’t know everything. There’s no need to remind them at every turn.

3. Who Are You?

People are uncomfortable with public speaking for lots of reasons, but a primary reason is that they don’t like the spotlight. It’s important to remember that you aren’t the hero in this particular story.

That may sound uncomfortable, but it’s really not! Consider your last experience as an audience member during a presentation.

You likely weren’t taking notes on every misstep the speaker made. You weren’t critiquing every filler word, awkward gesture, and weird facial expression.

In other words, you were interested in getting your money’s worth. You wanted to learn something that was applicable to your personal or professional growth.

As you listened, your brain was syncing up the information to your personal experience. You likely had ideas, points of interest, and facts that you wanted to look up later.

As a listener, you cared about the value of the entire experience. An awkward pause or a question the speaker couldn’t answer didn’t matter.

This is another crucial step when it comes to designing presentations as a leader.

All you’re doing is crafting a roadmap that you are giving to those attending your presentation. You aren’t acting as a rockstar or a comedian. Instead, you’re giving the audience tools and seeing what they do with them.

4. Construct It Backwards

What is the end goal of your presentation? Maybe you are creating an internal presentation showcasing your team’s performance over the past year. The end goal is perhaps to persuade your boss that you need more funding or to inform the rest of the company what your team does.

Maybe you’re presenting to stakeholders and are trying to pitch your services. Whatever the goal, you need to have concrete steps you want attendees to take.

If you’re uncertain about what should happen after the presentation ends, your audience might be too. Start by creating the last slide or bullet point.

Your audience might never see this bullet point, especially if it’s something point-blank, like “get them to buy my product.” Once you’ve established the conclusion, consider what your closing persuasive angle should be.

Then, establish the supporting framework that needs to occur in the middle. The middle point of any presentation should be filled with data.

People like statistics and hard numbers, which is especially true depending on what industry you are in.

Think of it this way. Your opener and closer should appeal to emotion. People often buy into ideas with their hearts, but then you need to convince their minds and wallets.

We recommend structuring your presentation like this. Start at the end, with a goal attached. Then consider what point makes a solid right hook of a closing point.

Then, consider what data is most important to include in the middle. You might structure your data from least to most impactful.

Then, consider an appeal to persuasive emotion. Emotion is universal. People usually look for reasons that confirm their current feelings.

Once you’ve established the groundwork, you can play around with different hooks, which will establish options for attention-grabbing angles. Just like that, you’ve reverse-engineered your entire presentation.

5. Consider Your Style

What will other presenters be doing? Is this an established event that has occurred in past years? What guidelines have you been given?

Flawless presentations allow for a lot of variety. As long as you achieve your goals and hit the right emotional and practical notes, you can experiment.

Part of building your presentation skills is flexing your ability to improvise. If one angle isn’t resonating with your audience, then think on your feet and change it.

Another part of your presentation skills is how you choose to interact with your audience. That’s why it’s important to know what styles are acceptable for your presentation.

You can bring the audience into your presentation with planned interactive activities. What about a fun brainstorming session that allows people to mingle with coworkers from other departments, teams, or companies? What about a game that allows people to highlight their own gaps in a given process?

People remember play and social engagement more than anything else. If you’re looking for a memorable presentation, be willing to adapt your style.

6. Sign Up For It

Presentation skills training is crucial for any successful public speaker. There are lots of experts who have been speaking in front of huge crowds for a long time. They’ve gathered information, tips, and experiences that will prevent you from repeating their mistakes.

However, it’s still important to get out there and do it. Practice makes perfect, and studying presentation theories will make you smarter. However, it’s not the same as actually doing it.

Remember that it’s okay to start small. You can volunteer to give the team update at your weekly Zoom call. Then, volunteer to do a presentation in front of a few people.

You don’t need to jump headfirst into speaking to auditoriums. But it’s important to periodically expose yourself to public speaking opportunities. Once you do it over and over and over, you’ll become comfortable with it.

Presentation Skills Training

Giving flawless presentations requires training and practice. With the right presentation skills training, you’ll be unstoppable!

That’s why we offer corporate training to help you further your career. As an unstoppable public speaker, you’ll be able to access promotions, revenue-building opportunities, and networking events. Contact us today—we can help!

Heather Muir

Heather Muir

As Vice President of Marketing, Heather directs Mandel’s marketing, branding, and communications strategies in collaboration with the Executive Team. In addition, Heather leads Mandel’s public- and industry-relations activities. Prior to joining Mandel in 2010, Heather held several marketing and communications roles within the learning and training industry. She is also an active member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Training Industry, Inc.; eLearningGuild; and the Association of Briefing Program Managers (ABPM). Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Davis, and has completed graduate courses in business and entrepreneurship at the University of Washington.
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