Your palms are sweaty, and you are rocking from one leg to the other. Do you really need another bathroom break? Many people become nervous when they have to hold a presentation. This completely normal, especially in a new study group or workplace. Unfortunately those who don’t quite know how to present risk coming across as incompetent. This is even more annoying when you actually know what you’re speaking about.
While you may be confident about your knowledge on the topic of the presentation, the art of how to present effectively is a totally different accomplishment. With the right attitude, only after a few attempts your presentation techniques will reach a totally different level.
If you bear these seven tips in mind, you will never jeopardize your credibility again!
1. Formulate a specific goal
When you have to hold a presentation, you should decide what effect you would like to achieve beforehand. Many people forget this part of the preparation and prepare information in the most obvious manner. For your audience this is not ideal: If you do not bare them in mind in your preparation they may quickly become overwhelmed or even bored.
In order to avoid this, you should ask yourself the following question: What effect would I like my presentation to have, an informational or emotional effect?
Even though the goal is often a combination of both, this can be said for sure: A presentation at university is certainly differently constructed than a sales pitch by a consultancy. In some cases you need to present a lot of information in a clear manner and in other cases give a rougher but more emotional overview. In most cases, your presentations serve to summarize something and give listeners an easy introduction to the topic. For this reason, set yourself a goal and work towards it while you prepare your project.
2. How to present well: Start from the very beginning!
Contrary to popular notion, your presentation does not start with your first slide. For your audience, you are presenting as soon as you are on the stage. Mind your posture, gestures, and facial expressions from this moment onward. Avoid folding your arms and turning away from the audience, but rather signal that you are looking forward to giving this presentation with an open stance and plenty of eye contact.
When beginning the presentation, you should avoid empty phrases. An introduction into the topic at hand of course has its place, but it must not be right at the beginning. With an illuminating example from the field of the topic or even an audience question you ensure that you have the attention of your audience.
3. Depict or articulate
You have surely heard before that you should only put the visualization and information on the slides that are really important. If you have decided to list individual key points or short sentences, then it’s important that you do not just read them verbatim.
Instead you should clarify, contextualize, and give examples on each point. Simply reading what the audience can see on the slides costs you in terms of valuable time, support, and attention.
4. Establish credibility
When you deliver a presentation, you are often the expert in the room. In order to strengthen your audience’s trust in you, you can talk confidently about your background, first points of contact with the topic, favorite nuances or even awards and qualifications you have been given. After all you have earned them! In this way you establish a greater degree of credibility and in addition raise the interest in the subject.
But a note of caution: References to yourself should be integrated meaningfully to express your enthusiasm for the topic. Talk too much about a good thing and you run the risk of deviating from the essentials.
5. The right movements
Long gone are the days of the regally ensconced speaker standing inconspicuously at a fixed place. Move purposefully on stage and you can reinforce your eloquence.
Use the stage area horizontally and you can involve more members of your audience and make better eye contact. A vertical movement on the other hand is useful when you would like to emphasize points. You appear more assured and at the same time more approachable, even if you are unable to answer a question.
6. Speak freely
Unpopular, but a must: When you present you should express yourself freely. If you need index cards, you should limit them to individual words.
If you write down complete sentences for the worst-case scenario, you will be setting yourself up to fail: You get nervous and decide that you should read from the cards to be safe. A better help is a few notes on your laptop. If you glance at them occasionally, at least you won’t be looking down all the time, and distract your audience in yet another manner.
7. Hold attention
When you speak in front of others, the attention of your audience is the most important asset. Be aware which distractions may compete with your presentation.
While you have little influence on the construction work taking place in front of your office, you can avoid rocking from one leg to another, fiddling with the index cards, or wearing an overly flamboyant T-shirt. These attention-grabbers detract from your real aim, and as such should be recognized early and eliminated straight away.
How to present: Practice your skills from day one
At BiTS and BTK presentations of your own projects belong to student life right from the first semester. Students receive valuable tips in special soft skills seminars on how to improve their gestures and rhetorical skills.