Presenting. Public speaking. Performing. These words can instill everything from excitement to nervousness to downright fear. You might feel cool and collected in front of a group, or you might get shaky knees – but no matter how you feel about it, giving an effective presentation can make or break your message. So it’s important to develop the right skills to knock it out of the park.
The good news? It’s actually pretty simple.
Here are 5 tips for giving your presentation that extra punch.
1. Be excited about your material.
This may feel like a no-brainer, but it’s important to keep it in mind at every step. If you’re passionate about what you’re communicating, your audience will feel it, and they’ll be passionate too. Find what strikes you as interesting, exciting, or different about your topic and dig into it.
2. Dive into your audience.
No, not literally. No leaping off the stage required. However, your audience will carry you – or, rather, your presentation – when you connect with them. Make sure you’ve considered your audience’s perspective, needs, and points of access. What do they want to get out of this talk? How can you meet them on their turf?
3. Listen to yourself.
This time, yes, literally. Record yourself. Get familiar with your habits and find what works and what doesn’t. This is probably the most difficult tip on this list – nobody likes the sound of their own voice – but it can do wonders. When you get a sense for what your presentation sounds like to an audience member, you can identify strengths and weaknesses and solve problems, which will make your work stronger.
4. Listen to others.
Watch videos of presentations that speak to you, such as TED Talks, and see how they do it. What really grabs you? How do they use their voice, their visual aids, and the space itself?
The capital letters are intentional. Practice, practice, practice. Do it until it’s automatic. Some people worry that if they rehearse too much, they’ll become robotic, but in reality, it will free you from worrying about the minutia of the presentation and let you focus on communicating with the audience.
Becoming a great presenter is a challenge, but far from an impossible one. In the end, as long as you’re passionate and prepared, your talk will hit home. So calm those shaky knees and get ready to make your voice heard.