It’s that time of year again. Everyone makes New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions but, too often, people tend to let those resolutions slide. We all do it. We’re all human.
The problem with letting your presentation skills slide, however, is that other people’s expectations of you, both for the content of your message and how you deliver it, never slide.
Those expectations only increase with time!
Which is why NOW, at the start of a new year, is the best time to refresh your content planning and delivery skills. Vacations are wonderful. Unplugging from work for a period is never a bad idea. That said, it’s easy for presentation skills to get a bit rusty over the long holiday break.
Soon enough, you’ll be expected to present your ideas in person, or perhaps virtually, and many of those presentations will be high-stakes.
So, here’s a quick refresher to help you brush up on your presentation skills. Practice!
The way most people “practice” their presentations is by sitting in front of their computer screens mentally reviewing slides and dialogue. In other words, they “walk” through their presentations in their heads.
While you can walk through it in your head, it’s no substitute for actual stand-up or “out-loud” rehearsal. And, if you’re going to be standing up for your presentation, stand up when you practice. And, do it in a similarly sized room to the one you’ll be in, so you can practice moving around.
Likewise, if you’ll be presenting in a meeting while sitting down, find a room similar to the one in which you’ll be presenting and practice out loud while sitting.
Finally, if you’re going to be presenting virtually, focus on projecting clearly and maintaining a higher level of energy throughout your presentation than you would if you were delivering it in person.
Deliver with Energy
Many presentations, both in-person and virtual, suffer from a lack of energy. Here are three quick tips to help you amp up the energy and make your presentation more engaging.
First, if you’re delivering a stand-up presentation, move while you talk. Take some steps, but don’t pace. Make eye contact with your audience members and connect it to your movement. Don’t overdo it, though. Avoid moving around more than 50% of the time.
Second, gesture naturally and conversationally. When not gesturing, don’t nervously fidget with your hands. Instead, practice relaxing them at your sides between gestures.
Finally, make sure your voice is clear, strong, and conveys a sense of passion for your topic.
Most people feel some degree of anxiety before giving any type of presentation. Below are a few tricks you can use to help you relax, stay focused, and connect more easily with your audience.
Before a presentation, consider doing any or all of the following:
- Take a walk to calm your nerves.
- Find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes, and visualize yourself giving a great presentation.
- Do some relaxation and breathing exercises.
Focusing on your own worries and nervous thoughts will only make you more nervous. Set aside thoughts about yourself and try to focus 100% on your audience and their needs both before the presentation and during it.
In 2016, don’t let how you communicate prevent you from meeting your goals. Refresh your basic skills and consider taking them to the next level.
In my next blog post, I’ll share some additional tips for putting together your slides, projecting executive presence, and making virtual presentations more powerful.
Until next time, keep honing your skills. Practice. Deliver with enthusiasm. Make it all about your audience. And, most importantly, have fun while you’re doing it.
And, Happy New Year...May it be your best yet!
What does the hit on Netflix called The Queen’s Gambit tell us about how to sell in a virtual setting? Actually, something very important.
Before we break down how this show teaches us the key to virtual selling let’s look at the backstory.
Customers coming to a user conference aren’t there for the fanfare, they’re there for the expertise. If you’re an expert speaking at a user conference, you’re highly knowledgeable and passionate about your topic, but you might not be an expert at speaking in front of an audience. Here are five practical tips that you can implement right away for any upcoming speaking event.
Read the blog and learn how to make your next team offsite your most productive yet.
TED Talks have become a go-to example for how to give an engaging presentation from the big stage. They can be informative, inspiring, and often incredibly entertaining. But is the TED Talk format right for a business presentation delivered in a conference room? Probably not — but the skills used by TED Talk presenters definitely are!
Learn how to identify what goes into a successful TED Talk and how to make those skills work for you in your everyday business presentations.
You know your scientists, engineers, and technology experts are the best around. They're proven innovators and solution providers within your organization. Why, then, is presenting to a business audience such a common challenge for technical professionals?
Learn 11 tactics your technical team can use right now to make them more effective and influential communicators for any business decision maker.
Admittedly, I've struggled to find a reliable way to help people reduce their public speaking anxiety, despite years of trying. I’ve advised people to do just about anything I could think of that might help, e.g., breathing, meditation. While I haven't found the thing that works every time for every person, there is one technique that seems to be more effective than most. Even if you've already found something that works well for you, this technique is worth trying out.
Imagine being asked to present to your entire company tomorrow. Does the idea of it make you nervous? You might be tempted to get right to work, writing every word down and committing them to memory. Now, what if I said you couldn’t memorize your talk? Whoa, wait a minute. You wonder, “How am I supposed to remember what to say?”
Find out why memorizing is a terrible idea and what you should do instead to prepare for your next presentation.
Be sure to set your speakers up for success. Read this week's blog to find out how.
Executive briefings. Big sales meetings. Project pitch meetings. What do they have in common? The stakes are sky high. There’s a lot riding on them for you and your company — revenue, reputation, productivity. Do your people have, both, the presentation AND facilitation skills to ensure their success?
Read the blog to find out and to get your free Discussion Leader Self-Assessment Tool and Facilitator Checklist.
Memory almost full. Imagine that warning flashing brightly on the forehead of every audience member. A successful presentation isn’t just about the speaker’s dynamic energy or their confident manner in front of an audience. Without compelling, easy to follow content, it doesn’t matter how comfortable you are in the spotlight. You and your topic will quickly be forgotten. So how do you ensure lasting, memorable impact? Learn how to be remembered by leveraging the ancient, globally relevant, and scientifically proven rule of three to focus your content, motivate your listeners, and make your executive presence shine.
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