If we asked entrepreneurs to name the reasons they started their companies, we’re pretty sure “giving presentations” wouldn’t make the list. Yet giving presentations is a huge part of any business owner’s job. Whether you’re talking to clients, investors, or your team, you’ve got to express yourself in a way that engages and resonates with others.
But not everyone is naturally eloquent. Shy people may struggle to vocalize ideas, while extremely creative people may have a hard time distilling thoughts into one coherent message. Even if you’re good at public speaking, you can still hone your skills to become more memorable. These 5 tips are sure to take your presentation game to the next level.
Tell an Engaging Story
There’s lots of advice about how to “hook” your audience early on—reading a quote, telling a joke, or asking a question. However, these strategies indicate a rookie speaker. Veterans use the art of storytelling to craft a relatable, entertaining experience for their audience.
Dr. Julie Connor, a TED Talk speaker and leadership expert, says good stories are about connection. They weave your presentation’s purpose and your personal experience into a single thread that resonates with listeners. This helps the audience relate to you as a speaker, making them more likely to care about your topic.
Of course, it’s important to choose a story that’s relevant and fits into the presentation. You can set up a storyboard to explore whether an idea is suitable or not; story boarding will help spark your creativity and establish clear transitions between your experience and topic.
While personal stories can build connections with an audience, they’re only effective if they have a point. Talking about your personal problems, pets, or vacation is useless if those things aren’t relevant to the presentation’s core purpose.
That’s why you need to edit yourself. Know how your story relates to the main point—then get to that point quickly. One way to combat oversharing is to write your whole story, then cross out any parts that aren’t necessary. You’ll end up with a streamlined presentation—and a better idea of how effectively your story relates to your topic.
Another way to edit yourself: eliminate extra words. You’d be amazed how much time you waste on fillers like um, actually, and okay. Fortunately, you can fix this mistake with the Um Counter app, which tracks your speaking patterns and helps you remove unwanted words.
Share your Presentation Notes
Most speakers keep index cards handy to help them stay on track. But these visual aids don’t take the audience into account. It’s easy for people to get distracted by motion or noise around them; they need visual cues just as much as you do. Besides, reading from note cards won’t impress any clients or investors in a small presentation setting.
One of the best solutions to these problems is easel binders. They come with a third panel attached to the back cover, which folds out into a display stand. The binder rings keep your notes safely in order (unlike cards that are easy to mix up). And you can turn the easel to face your audience, letting them share your notes and giving them a visual aid to help them focus.
Skip the Slideshow
Speaking of visual aids, slideshows are one to toss out with the dishwater. What began as a great organizational tool has devolved into a crutch for poor speakers to read their presentations verbatim. If you want to be a great presenter, you’ve got to do better than that.
Instead of boring your audience, look for clever ways to engage them without slides. Ask questions, recruit a volunteer from the audience, or play some music. There are dozens of things that are more interesting than a PowerPoint; find them and use them.
The issue isn’t that slideshows themselves are bad. It’s that any yahoo can read a slide. It takes a lot more skill to know who’s in the crowd and cater directly to them. That’s the point of an interactive presentation—to show the audience you know them, you’ve got something they need, and it’s worth their time to hear you.
Work on your Stage Presence
A good stage presence improves any presentation because it plays up your strengths. After all, you’ve got a unique way of relating to people that only works for you. Crafting stage presence is all about knowing how your speaking strategy impacts the audience. How you move, how long you hold eye contact, the pitch of your voice, and even what you wear impact your presence.
Since there are so many contributing factors, some business owners have started using acting techniques to be better speakers. They study how to adjust their voices and body language to evoke a particular response from the audience. If acting isn’t your cup of tea, try a public speaking group like Toastmasters. You’ll practice speaking in front of a live audience and gain access to online resources you can study at home.
You may not have anticipated just how many business presentations you would have to give over the years, but now that you know the truth, the only thing to do is become the best presenter you can be. With these tips, you’ll have all the tools you need to hone your speaking skills and win over audiences of any size.
Looking for an awesome, unique, exciting speaker? Here is a Top 5 Motivational Speaker for your digital transformation event!