You can rehearse your presentation until you’re blue in the face and even work tirelessly to tighten up the visuals and wording of your slide decks, but unless you’re actually living in the moment come game time, you’re missing an opportunity to relay your message in a meaningful way. Even if public speaking isn’t typically in your wheelhouse, there are tricks you can learn to acquire the talent in time for your next presentation. Here’s how.
Be who you are
As with any aspect of life, there’s no point trying to be someone you’re not. If you’re nerdy or shy, be comfortable with that. No matter your personality type, you need to come across as the right person to be presenting this material, even if you are not the definitive expert on the subject matter.
Choose your words carefully
If you’re trying to use flowery language and big terms in hopes of impressing your audience, not only will you lose them, but you’ll also trip yourself up as you search for the words you wanted to incorporate into your presentation. Talking to your audience as you would normally speak in conversation will help everyone in the room be more comfortable with both you and the material.
Know your audience
Along the same lines, you’ll want to know who will be in the audience before planning your presentation. You may know your subject matter inside and out, but if you’re introducing the topic to a group of fledglings, you’ll want to be empathetic to their learning curve and pivot accordingly throughout based on audience feedback. If you can’t get this info beforehand, show up early and mingle. Get to know the people in the audience and what they’re thinking about. It’ll help you become more comfortable, and never know what useful nugget of info you’ll uncover.
Notice the audience
It can be easy to keep your eyes focused on your slide decks to keep yourself on track, but scanning the audience will help them to feel more connected with you and your content. What’s more, you’ll be able to pivot or call attention to the fact that some people may have confused looks on their faces or are leaning back and crossing their arms rather than leaning forward in an engaged posture.
Move around the space
You might naturally want to be as close to the front of the room as possible. Still, actually moving around the space you’re in and expressing what you’re trying to communicate with your body will force the audience to follow you on your journey. The same can be done in a virtual setting by having everyone turn on their cameras so you can scan the thumbnails and use hand gestures and changes in your tone to get your point across.
Work with a pro
Above all, you’ll want to be an active participant in the communication rather than just a mouthpiece for the facts. The best way to do that is by working with a professional presentation coach, like DECK, to receive real-time feedback on your message. A coach can give you feedback on everything from breath control and vocal volume to timing and incorporating storytelling and a sense of humor, while also helping to tweak the overall message. Afterward, listening back to the audio rather than watching a video will help you to focus on any jargon and filler words while your coach can summarize.
What do you need to work on with your presentations?