Ten ways to improve your presentation style
When you think about giving a presentation, does your mouth dry up and your heart start racing? This is called glossophobia, fear of public speaking, and it affects about 75% of people, making it one of the most common phobias.
Your first thought to prevent this uncomfortable feeling might be to avoid any situation where you have to speak in front of others. However, there are things you can do to become a more confident and effective public speaker.
1. Set your goals
Find an answer to the following questions:
- What do you want to achieve with your presentation?
- How is it going to benefit your audience?
- Are you going to share information with others?
- Are you going to inform your audience about important news or is it just a quick update?
After answering these questions you will know what your objectives are and will be able to prepare a presentation that achieves them.
2. Show some passion
You will be able to engage your audience if you speak with passion and conviction. Also, speaking with passion can help to overcome nervousness because you'll be absorbed in what you're saying and you won't have time to think - or worry - about anything else.
3. Use personal stories
Storytelling is a good technique for public presentations. And if those stories are about yourself, they can be even more powerful. Telling a personal anecdote to illustrate the points you're trying to make can make you feel even more comfortable and relaxed.
4. Add some humour
If you can make your audience laugh a few times, they will be more receptive to what you're saying, which will help put you at ease. However, try not to tell obvious jokes as they can seem forced. Instead try to weave in a few humorous observations about your job or the subject you're talking about.
5. Include take-home points
Throughout your presentation give your audience a few key ideas that you would like them to remember. These take-home points are the ideas and messages your audience will go away with. Make sure to summarise these key points when you're wrapping things up.
6. Ask questions
Once you've finished delivering your presentation, ask your audience if they have any questions. Better still, so that your presentation is not one-sided, encourage participation by creating a small debate. You can do this by asking questions to your audience and encouraging them to participate. Just make sure your questions can be answered. Similarly, if someone asks a question while you're speaking, jump in straight away - don't wait until the end of your presentation to answer it.
7. Be prepared
Being prepared is one of the most important steps to delivering a good presentation, especially when technology is involved. If you will be using audio-visual aids, try to have a plan B in case your laptop crashes or you have problems with your Wi-Fi connection. If you are well prepared you won't be feeling nervous about possible problems with technology.
Practise your presentation as much as possible. Rehearse to the point that you're so familiar with your subject matter you could deliver your presentation without reading any notes - like having a conversation with a friend. Also try to do at least one practise run in front of a friend or family member.
9. Visualise your success
Visualising yourself giving a great presentation can help you feel more confident. Try to do this as many times as you can, especially just before you give your presentation. If you're still feeling nervous, try doing some deep breathing to bring down your heart rate.
10. Don't talk on an empty stomach
Always try to eat something before speaking in public. It may be the last thing you feel like doing if you're nervous, but having a light snack before giving a presentation can help make you more mentally alert.
Also, if the thought of your presentation is really stressing you out, try going to the gym or doing some physical activity. Exercise helps your body use up stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, making you feel much calmer.
How CABA can help
CABA supports past and present ICAEW member and their families, and although we can't make you a better presenter, we can help support your career development in general.