We could introduce this topic by acknowledging that most people do not like giving presentations. We could share statistics showing that many of us say that we are more afraid of public speaking than almost anything else. But instead …
We invite you to think differently. We invite you to reframe your fear as excitement.
Counter to popular belief, it may not be best to try to “calm down” before giving a presentation. Having highly aroused emotions in certain settings is natural and trying to suppress those emotions often does not work.
Studies show that reframing pre-performance anxiety as excitement can improve performance. This works because anxiety and excitement are both states of high emotion and anticipation while calmness is a state of low emotional arousal.
Saying “I am excited” represents a simple, minimal intervention that can be used quickly and easily to prime an opportunity mind-set and improve performance.
– Alison Wood Brooks, Harvard Business School
Whether you are using a presentation as an opportunity to motivate, persuade or sell, your presentation should be seen as just that: an opportunity.
So, as a precursor to, and the basis of, all the other tips listed below, you need to get excited. You have something worth sharing. What’s more exciting than that?
Here are five more tips for a standout presentation:
1. Know Your Goal
The first question you need to ask yourself is: why am I giving this presentation?
Are you an entrepreneur pitching an idea to investors? Are you a manager trying to inspire employees? Or are you a subject-matter expert wanting to inform your colleagues about a development in your field? This is your goal, and the structure and tone of your presentation should support it.
2. Pick the Right Structure
There are many ways to structure a presentation.
A common one is the problem-solution structure, which may be ideal if you are trying to sell or persuade your audience.
Another common method is the story structure. The human brain is hardwired to respond to stories and using them can make your presentation more mentally and emotionally engaging. The story structure can be especially useful when trying to inspire or motivate an audience.
Whichever structure you choose, make sure that you clearly outline the flow of the presentation to the audience before beginning – the audience will follow along more easily if they know what to expect.
3. Focus on the Important
Simple is best. Don’t dilute your most important points by trying to cover too much.
Having three strong points will be more memorable and compelling to your audience than having ten weak ones.
You’re not trying to explain a whole subject area to the audience, you’re trying to accomplish your goal.
4. Engage, Don’t Distract, with Visuals
The visuals that you use can either engage your audience or distract them. As a rule, you should only use PowerPoint (or any visual) if it is essential and furthers the goal of your presentation. If in doubt, leave it out.
If you do decide to incorporate PowerPoint, keep it simple. Use point form, not paragraphs, and use pictures or infographics when possible. Remember that if the audience is trying to read a slide of dense language or analyze numbers, they are not listening to you.
PowerPoint and other visuals can be very effective when used properly and at the right time. For example, when switching topics, changing slides can emphasize the transition.
If applicable, let the audience know at the outset of your presentation that you’ll be giving them a handout of all relevant information so that they can focus on you rather than on taking notes. Paying attention to your presentation shouldn’t be work for your audience; it should be easy.
5. Remember Your Body Language
A large part of what you communicate to your audience is through your body language.
This video from the Stanford Graduate School of Business is an excellent primer on the ways to use your body language effectively in a presentation.
Some of the most important “dos and don’ts” when it comes to body language are:
- Don’t face your visuals or turn your back to the audience;
- Do stand in the centre of the space;
- Don’t stand near visual distractions;
- Do make eye contact with audience members;
- Don’t stand with your hands clasped, tucked into your pockets, or on your hips; and
- Do use palm-up hand gestures, but avoid pointing at your audience.
The final piece that brings all these tips together is practice. Make sure to practice not only the words you will say but also the tone you will say them in and the way you will use body language.
With these tips, and with the right frame of mind, you can create a presentation that will be effective in any situation.
Whether you are getting ready for a meeting with investors, clients or colleagues, iQ has the perfect location for your next presentation. Contact us today to learn about our private meeting rooms and event spaces.