The fear of public speaking is something that is real for many people. Some people would rather go through other seemingly horrifying ordeals, such as getting a root canal or visiting with an annoying friend or relative, than get up and talk in front of a group of strangers. However, when you find you must give a presentation for your business, you can help alleviate your fears and really leave an impression on those who see your presentation if you make an effort to create a fun, engaging presentation by following these tips:
- The 10-20-30 Rule. If you don’t know what this rule is, you can find people quickly become uninterested in your presentation. What this rule means is your presentation shouldn’t include more than 10 slides, should last no more than 20 minutes and should include font that is at least 30 points. Keeping things short, simple and easy to read will better engage your attendees.
- Entertain Your Audience. Your main goal is to inform your audience, but you also want to keep them entertained and interested. Simple facts won’t do, even in the most serious presentations. While you don’t need to have them rolling in the aisles, adding some personality and emotion to your presentation will go a long way toward success.
- Slow It Down. When giving a presentation, nerves can get the best of you. If you are nervous, you are bound to talk too fast, often to a point you are difficult to understand. Take a deep breath and focus on talking slowly and succinctly. Even if you feel you are going too slowly, you likely are going at a decent pace.
- Maintain Eye Contact. Another negative side effect of nerves is the inability to make eye contact. However, this has a tendency to disconnect you from your audience. Keep your eyes moving, but make sure you connect with everyone in the audience at some point. Don’t just focus on one or two people; include everyone.
- A 15-Word Summary. The important thing about presentations is make it succinct. If you can’t summarize your main point in 15 words, you need to try again. This short summary will keep you from boring your attendees.
- The 20-20 Rule for Slides. Similar to the rule in number one, this rule states you should include 20 slides that last 20 seconds each. This clearly contradicts the first rule, but is another way to keep your presentation short and to the point.
- Don’t Read Your Presentation. When you have all your notes in front of you, it can be tempting to read. However, it is best to improvise as much as possible and avoid reading. If you get stuck, by all means, take a glance, but in general, you need to go from memory to show your audience you really know and understand your material.
- Use Stories. Anecdotes, short stories and even quips can really show how the material you are covering is relevant. It also keeps your audience more interested in what you have to say and creates an emotional connection between the speaker and the audience.
- Project Your Voice. While you don’t want to shout at the audience, you need to make sure your voice is loud and clear. Whether you have a microphone or not, you want everyone in the room to hear every word you have to say clearly. Stand up straight and hold your head high so your voice carries better. Ask someone to stand in the back corner of the room as you practice to gauge how well you are doing.
- Be Spontaneous with Gestures. Some people like to plan every little detail out. However, when you plan and practice your exact gestures, they will appear mechanic. You want to look as natural as possible on stage.
- Give Yourself Time to Answer Questions. You can use a quick filler sentence to give yourself a second to think before you answer a question. A phrase, such as “That’s a good question” will give you time to formulate your response so you don’t stumble around with your answer.
- Use Short Pauses. When you aren’t reading, it can be tempting to insert involuntary noises, such as “ah,” “uh” and “you know,” that can really kill the presentation. Instead, take a quick breath in and continue on. Most people will not even notice these pauses, but everyone would notice one of the other utterances instead.
- Show Up Early. It is critical to show up early enough that you can practice with the equipment and get everything set up before your audience arrives. Remember, your audience will also arrive early so plan accordingly. The more prepared you are, the better your presentation will go.
- Get Plenty of Practice. Don’t just practice in front of your mirror at home. Practice in front of family, friends and colleagues. If you have the time, join a speaking organization so you can plenty of practice with public speaking. The more you practice, the more smoothly your speaking engagements will go.
- Don’t Use Apologies. Avoid apologizing for anything you haven’t done wrong. For instance, don’t apologize that you aren’t fully prepared or that you are nervous. This will only draw negative attention to yourself.
- Do Apologize If You Are Wrong. Not all presentations will be flawless. If you misspeak, say something you realize is incorrect or a member of the audience calls you out on something that was incorrect, don’t be afraid to apologize for the error. Follow up with the correct information. Being late is another reason to apologize.
- Think of Your Audience. Always speak with your audience in mind. When you are preparing your presentation, think about what they expect to learn and how their experience and personalities will impact how they absorb the information. This will help you truly speak to your audience.
- Have Fun with It. It can seem impossible to have fun when you are presenting in front of an audience, but if you use enthusiasm in your speaking, it will be catching with your audience. Use your passion if it applies and go with the flow.
Follow these simple tips when you prepare and give your presentation and you will see greater success than you ever possibly imagined. With these tips, and Onstream's myriad of communication solutions, you should be ready to deliver your best presentation yet.