It is normal to be nervous before a presentation, whether you are accustomed to speaking in front of an audience or not. Therefore, to create a successful presentation for your event, planning, preparation and lots of practice is needed. We present eight tips to get you well-prepared for your performance!
1. Who is your audience?
When talking about communication, always start with the receiver. In order to know how to get your message across, it is best to find out who you are talking to. By careful preparation, you can adapt your presentation to your audience. Think about questions such as: How many people will be there? How much previous knowledge do they have about my subject? Will they be here voluntarily or is it a compulsory activity?
2. Stand out!
You need to grab the attention of your audience, and this is particularly important in the introduction. You only have a short while to convince your listeners that you are worth listening to. It may be useful to connect your subject to a physical object of some kind, or build up excitement and expectations with good storytelling. You may even have a good way of engaging your audience from the outset, for example by asking them to stand up and shout hello as loudly as they can. This creates a relaxed and conducive atmosphere right from the start.
3. Everything revolves around time
The challenge is to get your hour-long talk to feel like twenty minutes. How do you do that? You need to be interesting, relevant and above all verbally quick. However, another important quality is to be sensitive to your audience and their reactions. Have you got their attention? If not, you may need to take a short break. And if you have time left over, it is always useful to invite participation from your listeners and let them interact in your presentation by asking questions.
4. See your Powerpoint as a resource
For the audience, it is boring to sit and listen to someone just droning on. Using Powerpoint or Prezi is therefore a good resource. But remember to see it as an aid and not a solution for the entire presentation. Make sure not to put too much text in your presentation, but rather work with images and key words in bullet points. The audience would prefer to listen to you than be stuck reading. If you talk freely about your content, it is more interesting to listen to than if the audience has to read a novel on every slide. Also, make sure you keep the number of slides to a maximum of 10-15.
5. Vary body language and tone
It isn’t always what you say, but how you say it. The key to a successful presentation is to vary both voice and body language. Don't be too monotonous, and have the courage to move around while you are speaking. Make sure that you practice this before your presentation and try out different gestures and ways of moving. Pausing for effect is also a good way to let something sink in with the audience. It gives them time to reflect and think about what you have just said.
6. Skip the script
You only do yourself a disservice by depending on a script. Practice your presentation instead, so you know it by heart. For an audience, it is incredibly depressing to sit and listen to someone reading from a script. Have the courage to rely on the key words in your Powerpoint presentation. They will help you if you lose the thread.
7. Dare to have fun!
Joy and enthusiasm will rub off on the audience, so dare to have fun!
8. Don’t forget to take a breath sometimes
Does your voice let you down when the nerves take over? Be sure to breathe. A deep breath can solve most things, and remember: You have something important to tell your audience!