How to give a winning presentation

Whilst there are some people who genuinely love presenting, some of us don’t relish the idea of giving presentations. But if you are in a leadership position or aspire to grow your career, chances are you are going to have present to your colleagues, clients, management whether you like it or not. Luckily, there are some things you can do to ensure you provide a compelling and engaging presentation when your turn next rolls around. Here are six ways to brush up on your presenting skills and have your audience eating from your hand; 

  1. Be confident – the best way to feel confident in your presentation is to be prepared. If you have a big presentation looming, don’t leave it to the last minute to prepare.

    The sooner you can prepare and practice it in the lead up to your presentation, the more confident you will feel. By being prepared and allowing yourself time to practice, you can also refine your presentation and ensure it is as good as can be when the time comes.

    If you can memorise your presentation without relying on slides or cue cards, you’ll naturally be more engaged with your audience. When your audience realizes you’re reading from a script, the personal connection diminishes, making your presentation feel less intimate and more formal, which reduces engagement.

    However, given our busy schedules, memorizing every presentation may not be practical. Achieving this level of familiarity requires extensive rehearsing until the speech becomes second nature. Therefore, reserve this effort for your most important presentations. Speeches delivered from memory, without prompts, come across as the most authentic.
  2. Focus on the delivery – If you feel nervous on the day, try to act confident. Make sure you speak up, have a natural ebb and flow to your talk, make eye contact with your audience and don’t speak too fast. When we are nervous we tend to talk fast, so you want to ensure you slow it right down with plenty of pauses.

    Watch some good TED talks to get a good idea on the pace, volume and general body language you could employ in your presentation. 
  3. Engage your audience – To ensure you engage your audience right away, consider starting your talk with a question, citing a poignant famous quote, or challenging your audience with a scenario like, “Have you ever found yourself in a position where…”. By making the talk personal, you are also much more likely to engage and connect with your audience.

    People don’t care to hear about companies, buildings, institutions. They care about the people, the human experience. So make sure you talk about these things – so your presentation is relevant and resonates with people. Instead of boasting about sales numbers and achievements for example, give examples of personal achievements and successes. 
  4. Tell a story – Stories have connected people since the beginning of time. Stories keep us captivated and take us on a journey. Some of the most engaging and memorable speeches in our history have been engaging stories that inspire the audience in an authentic way. Tell as story and use descriptive, vivid language and make your story come to life; stories ignite our imagination so why not spark that engagement in your audience. 
  5. Stick to 18 minutes – Use the formula TED uses. All TED talks are rounded up to 18 minutes because this is the magic the perfect time to keep people engaged. Anything more and our focus drifts. Scientists say our attention span typically ranges from 10 to 18 minutes. So, try to keep your presentation within this time frame. 
  6. Stick to the point – If you waffle, you can lose your audience and break the spell of engagement. In order to keep people listening and interested, make sure you stick to the topic and be concise. Tell your audience upfront what you will be talking about and then stick to it. 

Good luck in your next presentation. I’d love to hear your tips on how to give an engaging presentation. Drop me a line and let me know. Could your leadership team benefit from one of my tailored workshops? Please get in touch today. I’d love to help!

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