Public speaking, speeches and presentations can figure largely in many business roles, from marketing to human resources.
While some people look at home standing up in front of people, for others, it is their worst nightmare. For many people, talking in front of a small group of people, let alone hundreds hanging on your every word, is the stuff of phobia and fear.
But you can fear public speaking no more! With this article, you will understand the basics of fantastic presentation skills.
Tips from Seasoned Public Speakers
There are many people who talk in front of others on a regular basis. They make it look easy, but as they will tell you, there are a few basics that everyone adheres to if they want to be successful.
· Preparation is key
Unless you are a natural stand-up comic, then preparation of your presentation is critical to your success. In fact, even stand-up comedians don’t take the stage without preparing first!
This means not only researching your topic but also creating a question or problem that you will solve through the course of your presentation.
For example, you may want to address ‘how to streamline invoicing’ or discuss the merits of both online and offline marketing for a business.
You need to know your subject matter, both inside out. This way, you will have the background information that you need to answer questions and initiate discussions with your audience.
NEVER turn up at a meeting or presentation without working through your presentation several times in advance.
You may be using paper-based charts or the latest technology and software programs, but whatever you plan on using, practice with them before you take to the ‘stage’.
You will also need to time yourself to make sure that you do not run over your allotted time. There is nothing worse than listening to someone prattle on for 40 minutes when they only had a 10-minute slot.
· Visual information
Unfortunately, many people use presentation aids in the wrong way. PowerPoint and SlideShare presentations, for example, are there to give your audience key points. And the old adage is true: less is more.
- Minimum number of slides to get your point across
- Minimum number of words per slide
- Graphics and images only if necessary
· Practice speaking
The biggest issue for most people is standing up and speaking effectively. Many students who complete online marketing courses will, as part of future marketing roles, be expected to speak and present marketing ideas at some point.
Public speaking is a skill that comes with experience and practice:
- Plan your introduction – The moment you are introduced is the moment all eyes are on you, and you need a strong Greet people, welcome them, introduce yourself and tell them what you are going to talk about. Likewise, plan your closing comments rather than letting it fizzle out or, even worse, saying “well, that’s it!”.
- Be aware of your breathing – When we are nervous, we have a habit of holding our breath. As soon as our breathing is out of rhythm, we become breathless, and this affects our speech. We end up tripping over our words and mumbling. As you start your presentation, be aware of your breathing and slow your speech right down.
- Memory aid – There are times when we can forget or lose our train of thought and when this is the case, you need a memory aid to jolt your memory. Unfortunately, as online marketing courses show, nervous people can end up reading from cards or from their presentation notes. Stop this happening by having keywords for each slide written down and use them as an action plan for what you want to say throughout your presentation. Do not be tempted to read through notes – this is boring and amateurish.
- Volume – When we are nervous, the volume of our voice drops, and so you will need to be aware of how loud you are speaking. On one hand, you need to speak loud enough for people further back in the room to hear you but not shout at the front row. Use your voice – it is your best tool for keeping people interested.
- A glass of water – Q glass of water is ideal, providing you with an opportunity to find your place in your notes and assess where you are. Taking a sip of water is a natural break for you and your audience.
- Read your audience – This means that you have to look up from your notes and tear your eyes away from your presentation! Following your audience means you can see if they have understood what you have just explained– if not, you can re-cap or start a discussion.
If presentations and public speaking fill you with fear, you need our Business Marketing Level 2 course where everything is covered, from preparing to delivering a perfect presentation.