When I started writing the draft of this article, I was in my final year of university. I dedicated my semester to getting better at presentations, as I wanted to apply to Project Manager positions. Learning how to give a presentation is a must in any job, but in life in general too. After making dozens of presentations and perhaps listening to hundreds, I created a cheat sheet covering the following bullet points:
First, the number one rule of giving a better presentation is practice. Practice, practice, practice. We are not born naturally great presenters. Some of us are better at presenting than others. It is simply because they speak more, engage more, and like to speak more in general.
Always do a loud test before you give the presentation. Reading it is not enough. Unfortunately for me, I gave a rather important school presentation, at the end of my university years, and I messed it up. I had 15 minutes frame. I have been working on the base of my presentation for months and reworked the design dozens of times. However, I did not do one thing. I did not give my presentation to a practicing audience. It was a huge mistake because when I presented to the live audience, I ran out of time and couldn’t talk about two important topics that I wanted to.
Giving online presentations on Teams and Zoom is getting more and more common. It is crucial to be even more prepared for these online presentations, as there are fewer questions and ways to make it personal. Without body language, your voice and perhaps your facial expressions (if your camera is on) are the only way to make your presentation more personal.
2. Pay attention to the time frame
If you work with a specific time frame, try to keep your presentation a little bit shorter. If you have a 15-minute time frame and make a presentation that you can tell in about 15 minutes, you’ll probably run out of time. Keep your presentation a bit shorter. Most of the time, when you are presenting, you are slightly slower, so you might run out of the frame. If you somehow finish your presentation right on time, you still have time for the questions. Which is much more professional than running out of time and starting to ruin your performance.
3. Speak slow – pay attention to your tempo
The following tip is related to the previous point but deserves its own point. If you want to give a memorable presentation, make sure to speak slowly and intelligibly. If you rush your words, your message will not be understood, and your presentation will not be memorable for the audience.
4. Know your audience
Knowing your audience is more important than you think. If you need to give a presentation, you probably know who your audience will be. If you give a school presentation, you will have your classmates. Therefore, when it comes to a job presentation, your colleagues will be your audience, and so on.
Know your audience and know what makes them feel engaged. Use images that they can relate to and easily understand. If you give a presentation to your grandparents and start talking about TikTok or Crypto trading, they will most likely feel lost pretty soon. Know your audience and make your presentation personal for them.
5. Accept that you are out of your comfort zone
Accepting that you are outside your comfort zone is the first part of getting better at presenting. Public speaking and giving a presentation, in general, is the fear of many, but it shouldn’t be. Kids are often against giving presentations because they get topics they don’t like.
If you don’t like the topic, it’s hard to give a great presentation, but there are some tips you can follow:
- Preparation – always check the facts. Especially if there will be questions.
- Tell a story. No matter how unrelated the topic is for you, try to find a story that relates to it. Your presentation will be way more personal and professional if you tell a story.
- Images over words. If you give a presentation with the help of digitality, use it to your advantage. Show related photographs or even some short videos.
- Don’t show more than six things on one slide, and keep your bullet points short, as the audience can’t do two things at once. They are either reading your presentation or listening to you. If you have a presenter – try to animate your presentation, and only show the part you are talking about.
Great presentations always give a message to the audience. You are presenting to an audience, not to yourself. That’s why you should motivate them. The easiest way to uplift others is to talk about a topic you’re passionate about. If you like the topic, you’ll talk about it in a motivating way so your audience will enjoy it more.
7. Tell a Story
Finally, I’ve mentioned it before, but the key to any great performance is storytelling. If you’re talking to an audience about a topic they’ve probably never heard of before, the best tip is to tell an engaging story related to the topic. If you’re talking about a new product that they’ve never seen or used before, talk about a problem that both you and your audience are facing and show how the product solved it.
Some facts about presentations
- Most people don’t like to give presentations. However, they are very critical of others’ presentations. If you mess up or your presentation is boring, they will show some signs – even the most polite audiences will show if they don’t enjoy it.
- Be confident and if you say something, stick to it. Do not let others make you second guess yourself. If your knowledge is deep enough, you will not have a problem with this.
- At last, refer to a specific thing only once in your presentation.