To the inexperienced, delivering the perfect presentation can feel like a mountain to climb. A common mistake is to keep talking until you feel like you cover all the bases. If you take a look at some of the great orators such as Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King, you will begin to notice how succinct they are with their responses and how they can use one phrase to present a variety of different meanings. Achieving this obviously cannot be done overnight. With dedication and practice, you can improve your presentations from blubbering messes to eloquent and efficient speeches.
Catch Their Interest
The beginning of the presentation is your opportunity to make an impression on the people in the room. Jumping straight into your ideas can really only go one of two ways; success or disaster. Instead try to:
- include an ice breaker
- a dash of humour
- a tug at the heart strings
- simply something which will evoke emotion.
This is important for grabbing their attention. It says that your presentation is more than just a list of facts you memorised the night before.
It is important then to retain that tone. If you’re feeling confident that your joke went down well or they were affected by your story, then throw jokes. While it is necessary to retain a sense of professionalism throughout the presentation, lightening the mood with humour can help to create a connection with the people you are presenting to.
Straight To The Point
Crucially, you need to keep the presentation short and simple in order to keep people engaged. It is all too common for presenters to mumble on for over 30 minutes. Ultimately this dilutes the key points that they are trying to present. Achieving this is reliant on planning the presentation well beforehand. Keep your main arguments at the forefront of what you are trying to say. Rehearse your content multiple times to ensure that when you are stood up there that you are able to re-tell the story 100 times. If necessary, you could even record it and have somebody else analyse what you have done. Cut out any unimportant information to keep the presentation as streamlined as possible.
Keep Your Cool
As important as the content of your presentation is, it still won’t mean much without the correct delivery. This is where filming yourself beforehand can become particularly important. In the heat of the moment it can be hard to keep a track of the tone of your voice, your body language and your pronunciation while trying to remember what you have to say. All of these represent your confidence in what you are saying. This can be hard to maintain if you tend to become nervous when it is time to present.
Practice Makes Perfect
One of the great orators in recent history, Winston Churchill would spend up to 40 or 50 hours rehearsing to tweak speeches before he would present them for the first time. Perhaps his most famous speech, ‘We shall fight them on the beaches’, delivered to parliament in 1940, was re-drafted and rehearsed several times to achieve the result he desired. The speech overall had to describe a great military disaster and warn of a possible invasion attempt by Nazi Germany, without casting a doubt on Britain’s eventual victory. Despite a mixed reception in parliament, it is Churchill’s speeches such as this one, which were a catalyst in keeping morale up during the Second World War.
The subject of the presentation can obviously change drastically, but following these steps can help to improve your delivery. A lot of nerves can stem from a lack of preparation. Rehearsing multiple times and gathering the opinion of others can work wonders in convincing you that your speech will be a success. Focusing on cutting out unnecessary information, your tone of voice and your body language can make a significant impact on impressing those in the room. Finally, depending on the subject matter, include humour and attempt to connect on a personal level. It helps others to see you are genuine and it displays your belief in what you are presenting.