Speaker, trained professional, teacher or maybe a student, what better way is there to share knowledge with an audience, if not through a slideshow presentation. That’s easy to say, but a good presentation isn’t about pictures, text or keeping fingers crossed. Effective presentations require a variety of elements and skills. Practicing makes you better yet even experienced speakers fall into some of the most common traps of presenting.
Here is how you can make a great impact presentation while avoiding common mistakes.
1. Understand your audience
Before you even start working on your presentation you have to visualize, analyze and understand your audience in order to adapt your content to their needs.
Knowing their age, gender, culture and education level could build some common ground between you and your public yet it’s not enough.
The most important thing is to figure out how familiar they are with the topic of your presentation and what kind of information they would like to hear in order to help them or if you like only to inform then curate only the relevant information.
In addition, you have to determine how many people are going to attend because there’s a big difference between delivering a speech to 10 people or addressing a larger crowd.
Remember that most audiences are sympathetic but getting off on the wrong foot can jeopardize your entire work.
2. Prepare your content
Living in the information era has dramatically reduced our attention span due to information overload. Thus, creating tailored content that responds to your audience’s needs is the safest way to grab their attention and avoid boredom. Tailored content works best if it follows a well and logically structured format. This will help your audience retain information you want them to while keeping them interested.
Also, think twice before overloading your presentation with tons of content, nobody wants to see a 50 slides presentation in 20 minutes. You just have to focus on a few key points that would raise interest among your audience and If you succeed to make them curious they will ask further questions.
Use visual aids, but don’t go too far. It is nice to have some explanatory images, yet too much graphic content would only distract an audience. Keep the focus on you.
Try the chunking method. Chunking is a special technique that makes the brain assimilate and memorize more information by grouping it. Chunking is most commonly used in mathematics and it allows to memorize long strains of numbers by grouping them. This technique could also be applied in other areas, like public speaking, where you can group similar types of content for a better understanding. Summarize and group your content by similar classes and this will enhance your audience ability to understand it and will reveal the bigger picture.
Adding examples to each of your key points, either verbally or on slides, will make your presentation more captivating. Examples have to backup your content and ease the understanding of the topic. A presentation full of theory will chase your audience away, although balancing theory with real examples in an engaging way could lead you to success.
3. Deliver with Confidence
Emotions could get the best of us and even experienced speakers have their heart pounding when delivering a presentation. It is easy to become overwhelmed with emotions when you stand in front of an audience, but don’t let them choke you because this will probably show and affect your speech. Everyone is a little bit nervous and this is normal if you are not a sociopath. Nobody wants to see a speaker that is losing it. Practice your speech to build confidence, but don’t memorize it. The more you practice the better you will feel when going in front of your public.
Another technique that calms your nerves is imagery. Imagine yourself in a quiet, peaceful place, choose your setting carefully and imagine what if feels like to be in that place. At first, it might feel strange, although with practice your imagination will grow stronger and you’ll soon be able to quickly enter that relaxed state you were looking for.
You should always start with a short preview of what you are going to say and which key points you will focus on, a 30-second elevator pitch should be enough for a statement of purpose.
Share a story, not just a speech. During the presentation try to be audience-centered. Focus on your audience’s needs and accept feedback or questions. If they are restless or bored try to summarize all the things you have to say and get to the end. It’s better to have a shorter presentation than a bored crowd.
4. Control the environment
It’s always best to arrive early at the venue to accommodate with the stage and with the equipment. Give yourself sufficient time to gain a comfort level with the venue.
Rehearse with the microphone and see if there are any echoes, check your voice in the speakers to feel secure with that. Run the projector and check if you can play your presentation and if it runs smoothly. Take a walk around the room and see all the potential views, adjust to your surroundings.