If the thought of giving a presentation turns your legs to jelly, you should consider honing your skills. Often our fear of presenting harks back to our school days, when we were forced to stand in front of a classful of sniggering classmates, whilst speaking for five minutes on an obscure subject. It was truly awful and pretty much destroyed any existing skills to nothing!
In your work life, good presentation skills can be extremely useful. In fact, many interviews request candidates to present to the panel as part of the interview process. It is to assess confidence, knowledge and the ability to communicate knowledge effectively.
If you are a business entrepreneur you will need to be able to pitch your business and products to potential clients. With shoddy presentation skills, you could miss out on lucrative revenue.
This article aims to highlight ways of enhancing your presentation skills.
Create A Powerful Sales Pitch: Practice Makes Perfect
The more presentations you do, the better you will become at them. Instead of shying away when the word presentation is mentioned, agree to take it on.
Presentations on a small-scale would be a great starting point, perhaps to your work colleagues.
When you have written your presentation, practice speaking it aloud – often.
Create A Powerful Sales Pitch: Organise materials
The majority of your presentation should be done by yourself, as you verbally interact and engage with your audience.
To emphasize what you are trying to communicate you will probably want to utilize software from software companies that will provide a visual aid.
To further emphasize your message, it is a good idea to circulate written literature in the form of handouts and leaflets so that they can refer to them later.
Although you will have practiced and practiced your presentation it would be advisable to take reminder cards or cues, just in case you lose your train of thought.
Don’t rely on them though as you want your presentation to flow as naturally as possible.
Create A Powerful Sales Pitch: Research Your Audience
Try and find as much about your audience as possible, this will help you to pitch the presentation at the right level. It would be pointless covering very basic material if you have a room full of professors in the subject, likewise being too technical to an audience with no prior knowledge will result in boredom and confusion.
Find out which industries the audience are attending from and what role they have in their company.
Try to arrive early at the presentation venue, this will allow you time to meet and greet your audience. This will give you the opportunity to build a rapport with your audience before your presentation starts.
Create A Powerful Sales Pitch: Opener
How you open your presentation is probably the most crucial part of ensuring your presentation is a success.
You need to grab the audience’s attention immediately by making some kind of emotional attachment. You could do this by retelling a true story, asking a question or quoting shocking statistics.
Don’t use your first few lines to introduce yourself or make thank you’s.
Create A Powerful Sales Pitch: Keep It Short And Snappy
Presentations shouldn’t be confused with lectures. You are just presenting vital information and headings rather than going into great depth about a subject.
Keep your presentation interesting and leave the audience feeling that they want to know more.
You will only have a certain length of time to convey information, so don’t try and cover too much. You are more likely to retain the interest of your audience by keeping it short.
Create A Powerful Sales Pitch: Be Engaging
It’s important to ensure that the presentation does not come across as one-sided ie you talking and the audience (hopefully) listening. Actively engage your audience by asking questions and inviting questions.
This may feel a little out of your comfort zone, especially if you are asked a question you’re unsure of, but as long as you’re honest and state that you don’t know the answer, but you’ll find out you will retain the interest and respect from your audience.
To be engaging you should avoid reading from copious amounts of notes, just use cue cards as reminders and try to sound natural. Use humor and personal reflections and give the audience small tasks and games to participate in.
Try not to race through your presentation as quickly as possible. Pausing after each point allows the audience to process the information and holds their attention.
Create A Powerful Sales Pitch: Check Body Language
Even if you’re feeling like a quivering wreck internally, it is important to appear calm and confident to your audience.
Adopt a confident stance with your shoulders back, arms by your side, hands open and stand tall. Position yourself fairly close to your audience and not too far in the distance. Smile and make eye contact, try to make each person in the room important.
Avoid closed stances, such as hunched shoulders and arms folded.
Create A Powerful Sales Pitch: Closure
The closure of your presentation is extremely important as it is your last opportunity to get your message across and leave something that will stick in the audience’s minds.
You want to leave them feeling interested and “hungry” to find out more. If you have presented a business proposal, ask for action from the audience and leave a vision for the future if they invest.
Circulate supplementary information and handouts at the end of the presentation, clearly stating your contact details and summarising the information you have presented.
To gain insight as to what your audience thought about your presentation, consider asking for feedback. You can use this information to develop your presentation skills further.
To conclude, making a presentation doesn’t come naturally to the majority of people. You can, however, develop skills to make presenting look like second nature! It takes lots of practice and preparation. Attend a lot of presentations yourself so that you can adapt what you like and don’t like when constructing your own.
There are many websites on the internet and courses run to help develop better presentation skills. You could consider joining Toastmasters which is an organization focused on public speaking and making presentations.