Presentation Skills

by David Samoranski on September 23rd, 2010

The purpose of my presentations is generally not to lecture, educate, or teach. The true objective is to impact and have an effect on the audience. A presentation is often a single opportunity to create the impact I desire for a specific audience. My intent is to capture the attention of the audience and deliver relevant value. I must connect with the needs of the audience in order to accomplish this. Several techniques and best practices can be employed by anyone to improve the effectiveness of their delivery.

Many people are frightened or fearful of speaking to large groups. Confidence is the solution to overcoming the fear or anxiety associated with public speaking. Confidence is not an attitude or feeling. You do not have to feel confident to be confident. You simply need to learn how to exhibit confidence in any situation. The perception of your audience is their reality. They will believe you are cool, calm, and collected if that is how you appear. Confidence is nothing more than a set of physical skills you can practice.

The time before your presentation begins is a great place to start projecting your confidence . Imagine yourself as the host for guests in your home. Be courteous, cordial, and welcoming. This is much more inviting than pacing back and forth on stage or fidgeting with your hands and feet. Try to smile, look comfortable, and appear loose. You can also practice controlling your voice and gestures.

Your voice is an extremely important part of how your audience perceives your confidence. Practice speaking in rhythmic phrases instead of sentences. Avoid talking too fast by using pauses to breathe and pace yourself. Project your voice to demonstrate a commanding mastery of the subject matter. Modulate your tone to provide excitement and emphasis on key words and concepts.

Body language and gestures can complement your voice to enhance your delivery effectiveness. Gestures can be used to animate presentations, help communicate words or concepts visually, add interest to dull topics, and reduce the effect of nerves and anxiety on the presenter. Try to be as relaxed as possible. Avoid fidgeting, playing with rings, crossing your arms, or holding them behind your back. Practice keeping you head, neck, and shoulders loose to help set your audience at ease.

There are many other presentation techniques that can help you connect with your audience, display confidence, and exhibit subject matter expertise. Try using more imagery, illustrations, and diagrams in your slides. Include analogies, metaphors, and similes to promote understanding. Use personal examples, personas, and fictitious companies to humanize the content. Humor and quotes can also be successfully incorporated into your presentations. Challenge yourself to tell a compelling story rather than simply regurgitating information.

Engage with the audience and be empathetic to their needs. What is the value proposition of your content? What makes your presentation relevant for the audience? Adjusting your focus accordingly will help ensure that your message has real meaning for those in attendance. Control your voice and body language to deliver a confident and engaging presentation. Mastery of these skills will offer you the opportunity to create the impact you are looking for.

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