Did you know that more than 75% of people fear public speaking? It’s come to the point that this fear has been classified as a phobia, known as “glossophobia.”
When it comes to delivering an impactful presentation, everyone wants to have a standing ovation– or at least a satisfied nod from your boss. What if we told you that you could be Tony Stark marching out after a speech, Jeff Bezos walking out of an Amazon meeting, and Harvey Spectre giving a riveting argument?
Welcome to Snapreads! Today, we’re going to teach you how to give an excellent presentation by breaking down seven presentation tips and skills to leave an impression. Let’s dive right in!
The 5 Second Rule
by Mel Robbins
⏱ 14 minutes reading time
🎧 Audio version available
Dress to Impress
The first step occurs way before the actual presentation. You will never give an impactful, passionate, and serious presentation without the appropriate attire. Not only will it be confusing for your audience, but it may affect the way you speak and hold yourself.
Clothes hold power. Donning a sleek blazer, pressed pants, and a crispy-white shirt is like putting on your superhero cape. The clean, groomed appearance is considered traditional for the presenter to be dressed slightly more formally than their audience. This way, you’ll receive a dramatic boost in confidence, and you’ll have a unique air of authority that makes people compelled to focus on you.
Choose professional, clean clothes, an outfit that you feel comfortable in, can move around easily in, and won’t make you feel sweaty right before the showtime. This is not the occasion to break in new shoes that will likely hurt your ankle and pinch your toes, nor is it the time to try out that brand new shirt or blazer with a still stiff collar. It’s also not the time to wear something flashy that may steal the attention away from your message.
As a general rule of thumb, when in doubt, go for a classic business style.
Wield Body Language to Your Advantage
Whether you know it or not, and whether your audience knows it or not, body language makes or breaks a presentation. Your viewers will subconsciously notice if you’re hunched over, if you look closed off, and if you’re too cocky– all of which will affect your likeability level.
You are likable, and you’re telling an important story, but your audience may need a little help in realizing that.
Let’s break this down into a few small but notable things to improve your body language while presenting.
First things first, let’s take your posture as a primary example of how much body language affects everyone in the room. First of all, your posture also works to influence your voice, especially how loud or low it is.
You want to stand up tall and straight, yet aim for a natural position. It should be a given that no presentation is given while sitting down. And while standing may make you feel nervous or exposed, it grants you a feeling of authority over your listeners.
Now, your shoulders should be down and relaxed. Your head and chin slightly up and back.
No matter how tempting or comfortable it is, it’s essential to never give a presentation with your arms crossed over your chest. This gives off the vibe that you’re closed off and not at all connected with your audience. In contrast, you also shouldn’t have your hand placed on your hips. This will make you look bossy or arrogant.
So what can you do? And the more important question: what do you do with your hands during a presentation?
The answer is way more straightforward than you think. You just have to forget about your hands. Be natural. It’s as if you’re having a normal, one on one conversation with someone. You don’t think about what you’re doing with your hands then.
Not comfortable with being casual? We have your back!
You can use several hand gestures and movements not only to appear confident but even further to capture your audience’s attention.
Use these hand gestures when you need to emphasize and draw attention to something special during your presentation. Move around a little. That will help you relax.
Here are some don’ts of body language during a presentation:
Don’t place your hands in your pockets. Studies have shown that people tend to trust others more when they can see their hands.
Don’t nervously fiddle. That means rolling loose change in your pockets, playing with pens, et cetera. While it may be an outlet for your nervous energy, it’s actively making your look nervous, which will be disconnecting and distracting for the audience.
Sprinkle in Some Humor
Still nervous? It’s important not to take yourself too seriously. A few witty lines here and there makes you endearing to your audience, even if you don’t get a few out-loud laughs. If you can make your audience feel amused and engaged, you have their attention in your pocket. Now, they’re more receptive to what you’re saying, which in turn makes you feel more reassured and confident.
Obviously, outright jokes aren’t recommended. Instead, try to go for an entertaining observation, use a couple of witty lines about the subject you’re presenting.
Use Take-Home Points
Have you ever attended a presentation that ended with you not knowing what on Earth that person was talking about? They didn’t have the secret we’re about to share: take-home points.
This is to ensure that your audience doesn’t go home, wondering what the point you were trying to reach for the past 20 minutes was. Before you go on stage, make sure you have all the ideas and main messages you want to stick into your audience’s minds and leave a lasting impression.
And right at the end of your no-doubt phenomenal presentation, summarise all your take-home points. Boom! You have left an impact.
Practise Makes Perfect
Sometimes, leaving a lasting impression after a presentation is credited to lots of practice. Whenever you have the time, practice that presentation as often as you can. Practice it to the point that you’re so familiar with it and the subject that you can deliver the content blindfolded– with ease—kind of how you would feel if you were talking to a trusted friend.
Also, if you have someone you trust that will provide useful feedback, have a friend or a family member help you. Try at least one practice-presentation in front of them and have them give you feedback. If there is no one available, you can even break the tension a little by presenting your point to your pet. You’ll find them to be excellent listeners!
But jokes aside, if you want to deliver a passionate, rousing presentation, this is the way to go. It’s better than trying your luck at stalling or forgetting what you’re about to say.
Prepare for Your Surroundings
You can’t expect to effortlessly deliver a stirring speech, animatedly talking and gesturing, while you’re not familiar with the stage.
The more you’re prepared for your surroundings, the more comfortable you will feel, and the more confident and relaxed you will be. It helps to spend a little time in the space where you’re going to do the presentation. Take note of how the seating is set up, and make sure you know if there will be any distractions or obstacles in your path.
Have a Powerful Start
Our final tip takes us all the way back to the beginning of your presentation. As nerve-wracking as it is, presenters only have a few minutes at the start to grab their audience’s attention and not only that but to hold it.
A strong start to your presentation should be entertaining and riveting. Introduce yourself later. You’ll have a grace period before the audience starts losing focus.
Still, don’t forget that most audiences will be sympathetic. Remember that part when we said over 75% of the world suffer from fear of public speaking? That equates to people being more patient when listening to nervous speakers. That also means that– unlike what you may think– your audience won’t burst out in mocking laughter or point fingers at you if you misstep or make a mistake.
What you do is to take a deep breath. Yes, you feel nervous at the moment. That’s okay. It’s just important that you don’t let your muscles tighten up and hold your breath as a result. Take a deep breath and step on stage with confidence.
The last step? Smile. Smile even if you feel anxious. Even the simple act of turning your lips up increases happy endorphins, making you feel good about your presentation. Your audience will also warm up to you. Don’t worry. You’ve got this!
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