You may know the feeling. Your heart starts to pound a little faster, your mouth goes dry. The truth is, making a presentation is just as nerve-wracking for some adults as getting up in front of the class was when you were a child.
Even if you are someone who excels at speaking in public that doesn’t mean your presentations are as powerful as they could be. In fact, for people who enjoy speaking to groups it may be tempting to just wing it. But the only way to make a truly effective presentation, one that makes a deep impact on your audience, is to thoroughly prepare.
And it’s not just about what you say, it’s about how you use your voice, your face, and the written word simultaneously. If that sounds daunting, remember that making powerful presentations is a skill that can be learned, and can be taught. Believe me, I know from trial and error doing my own presentations over many years.
Here are my Top Tips For Achieving Powerful Presentations, aimed at avoiding the most common presentation pitfalls.
Remember when your teachers used to tell you to write an outline before you embarked on that essay or project? It might have seemed a tedious part of the process, but it’s key to starting your powerful presentation. In other words, get organized! Write a rough outline, and the rest will follow, and adequate preparation will maximize the impact of your presentation.
Most presentations include a visual element too, and your visuals need to complement your oral presentation to have real impact. Your goal is to make every word count. This meansthinking carefully about how you want to use your slides.
Slides need to enhance your oral presentation; yet be comprehensive enough to inform those who may have missed the live show. But avoid jam-packing your slides with too much text. Think of them as a point form outline rather than your full presentation script. (Imagine for a minute enlarging the text of your entire presentation script to fit the meeting room wall: disastrous and distracting!)
That’s why it’s important to keep your notes pages, (not visible to your audience), as the source of all that you need to say, while your slides contain just the key, crucial points. And be sure to keep the number of slides to a minimum.
It’s tempting to get drawn into fancy graphics, but will that get your message across clearly? Nope. You want to avoid the hype. Let your content play the starring role. Leave the fades and dissolves to Hollywood. Your words should tell the real story.
My final point in this post is about something we’re all guilty of from time to time: laziness. But when it comes to creating point form notes for a presentation, laziness is not your friend! Resist using improper grammar and incorrect spelling, it will trip you up during your presentation. What you need to do is proof & practice. In other words, proofread your material, because poorly constructed writing deflects from your message. And practice. Not just in your head, but out loud. You’ll catch errors and polish your presentation, even if talking to yourself feels a little, well, silly. I do it all the time. It works!