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A dash of confidence, two teaspoons of organization, and one cup of research. If there was a magic recipe for the perfect presentation, it would have these ingredients on the list. Add in a little bit of an eye for design, some people skills, and bake for 30 minutes—then sprinkle a little bit of feedback on top. Sounds like we’re onto something. Many skills come into play for obtaining a perfect presentation. However, there are some basic abilities that you can work on to improve yourself. First of all, you should be aware of what the 3 phases of a presentation are: preparation, delivery, and follow-up. Certain skills are specific to each one and it’s always a good idea to work on them constantly.
No matter where you’re having your presentation, you can’t go unprepared. This means that you should do a fairly good amount of research for your topic before you start creating your presentation. Also, if it’s possible, it’s always a good idea to do some research on your audience. This way you can adapt your tone of voice, use of humour, and small details that can make or break your presentation. You can also try to anticipate the questions you might get from your public at the end of your speech. Sure, you won’t be able to predict everything, but you will be prepared for the most obvious ones.
The purpose of a presentation is to showcase information into easily digestible pieces. To do this effectively, you need to organize your material systematically in order to be understood without difficulty. You can also try to make an outline of your presentation before you actually start working on it. This will help you put an order to your thoughts and ideas—and implement only the best ones. It will also give your speech structure—since you already have your key points out there. If you can, try to use as many charts or tables as possible. They are understood and remembered more easily by the audience. They’re also a nice way of comparing facts or numbers—without having to switch in-between slides. It’s a good idea to prepare handouts or digital references beforehand. These are for people that don’t take notes or want to review the information you’ve presented later. You can easily do this by using an online PDF editor.
Having a great slide deck will help impress and get the attention of your audience. Luckily, all you have to do is choose one of many free PowerPoint templates that you can find online. However, you should pay attention to how your design fits both your personality and the formality of the place where you’re presenting. How formal do you have to be? Can you let your creativity run free? Try to adapt your design to be appropriate for your audience. However, don’t try to be someone you’re not. This will make your speech feel unnatural and forced—and you will lose the attention of your audience. Another thing that you should do is try to use as many visual elements as possible. An inspiring image can tell your audience more than they’ll glean from 100 words. You can also explain complex concepts in a simple manner with a short video or GIF.
To capture the attention of your public, you need to show a little confidence. Try to find an attention-grabbing opener. If it is appropriate, you can even use humour to engage with your audience—it will make you feel more relaxed and self-assured. Another thing that you have to keep in mind is that the public can sense your attitude. If you feel passionate and enthusiastic about your topic—chances are it will rub off on others. Otherwise, if you don’t care about your subject, why should other people? No matter how good a speaker you are, there will always be a low-energy point during your speech. You can try to keep your audience’s attention by interacting with them—ask rhetorical questions, or maybe even make them vote on something.
One of the best ways of improving your presentation skills is to ask for feedback from your audience. You can do this at the end of your speech or by sending an email to follow-up. The important thing here is to be open to suggestions and apply the ones you feel you need. It’s easier to assess your performance if you have an outside opinion. A fresh perspective can give you new ideas or can highlight areas of improvement that you haven’t thought of before. To be sure you get the most out of your feedback, try to ask specific questions. Was the content informative? How was the delivery speech? What was missing from the slides? Try to get as much information as possible from your public so that you know what areas need the most improvement.
Every presentation is different but one thing is sure—it needs to match both your personality and your audience. This is most applicable for the design you chose for your slides, but also for your tone of voice. Additionally, you should always have in mind the 3 stages of a presentation: preparation, delivery, and follow-up. This means you have a set of key abilities to focus on: research, organization, and public speaking. They aren’t the only ones, but for starters, it’s good to focus on those. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to show confidence. You’ve done the research, you’re passionate about your topic—so make your public feel the same! Try to get a grip on your nerves and just enjoy the moment. After all, you’re the centre of attention and you have something important to say.
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