How To Give The Perfect Presentation
‘Presentation’ can be the most dreaded possible word you could hear in relation to work or a job interview. We all know that public speaking can be a daunting and nerve-wracking experience, and while it’s all well and good to say ‘practice makes perfect’, if you’re too nervous to get up and practice – yes, in front of real live people – how will you deliver the perfect presentation?
Following are some essential tips to help ready yourself in order to deliver the smoothest presentation possible.
- Memorise the Presentation: It is absolutely essential that you prepare, and prepare well, for the presentation. This means planning a structure and learning it, so you know throughout which part of the presentation comes next. Not only will this help calm your nerves by knowing you piece by heart, but it will also show to the audience confidence.
- Review the Presentation: Double check your presentation to make sure there are no spelling and grammatical errors, and also check how it looks when viewed on a projector as opposed to just your monitor; it is common for the colours to look less saturated when projecting, which means that any mid-tones become harder to distinguish and so harder for the audience to read.
- Have a Plan B: Also, make sure you have a Plan B, should any technological catastrophes occur. For example, if your file becomes corrupted or the projector decides that today, on your very presentation day, that it’s time to throw in the towel, you have spare copies of the presentation slides printed to hand to the audience instead. Another idea is to save your presentation online, such as on SkyDrive, as well as on a memory stick, so you always have a backup copy if you lose your USB.
- Bullet key points: It is a good idea to write short bullet point reminders on flash cards of the structure of your presentation, should your mind ever go blank while you are delivering.
During the Presentation
- Introduce yourself: An easy way to begin a presentation is to introduce yourself, what you will be showing the audience and, if need be, to request questions be saved until you have finished (which helps maintain your flow) or indicate that you would prefer the audience interaction throughout the presentation.
- Be Concise: Make sure you keep to your structure and try not to ramble. The point of the presentation is to explain or get a message across to the audience, though this will be much harder if they are now doodling on their notes in response to your rambling.
- Do not rely on the slides: As you progress through the presentation, your slides should be a point of reference for the audience or for you to indicate to them certain points. You shouldn’t be glancing back at the slides and using them as a guide, as this does not only imply poor planning on your part, it also creates a barrier between you and the audience where you are both reading the screen rather than interacting with each other.
- Maintain eye contact: In reference to the connection between yourself and the audience, a key way to uphold it is to maintain eye contact throughout. This doesn’t mean stare them down into submission of your presentation, but glancing between each person and holding their gaze for a second or two shows confidence on your part and encourages the audience to keep paying attention.
Even the most experienced public speakers get nervous, it’s natural to feel some pressure when you are the centre of attention and need to remain composed. If you find yourself becoming nervous, don’t be afraid to take strategic pauses, disguised as a confident moment allowing the audience to absorb the current point. This will allow you to gather your thoughts, glance at your flash card reminders and carry on positively.
When you are finished, remember to thank the audience for listening; nobody likes to begin the awkward clapping when they aren’t sure if the speaker has finished, and this saves the confusion and wraps the presentation up clearly.