Blog Entry

How to Improve Your Presentation Skills

How To Improve Your Presentation Skills

Strong presenting skills are something that most anyone in the business field can benefit from as business is largely about communicating ideas in a persuasive manner. With this in mind, we thought it would be a good time to review the best practices associated with giving an effective presentation.

Know Your Audience

The first piece of advice is to know your audience. If you a pitching a product to prospective investors, research and understand the backgrounds of the investors and their motivations. Once you have done extensive research on the investors it is then possible to tailor the pitch accordingly. Consider what people in the audience already know about your subject. If you assume they have more knowledge or interest than they do, or if you start using jargon or get too technical, you’ll lose them.

Tell a Story

Next, is to tell a story. Framing the investment idea in the context of a story is an effective way to deliver a business pitch. Many of the best talks have a narrative structure that loosely follows a detective story. The speaker starts out by presenting a problem and then describes the search for a solution. This naturally leads into how your idea or product solves this problem.

Plan Your Delivery

If you are giving a talk to inform the public about your idea or product there are a few things to consider. One tip is to plan your delivery. According to Chris Anderson, curator of TED, there are three main ways to deliver a talk. He says, “You can read it directly off a script or a teleprompter. You can develop a set of bullet points that map out what you’re going to say in each section rather than scripting the whole thing word for word. Or you can memorize your talk, which entails rehearsing it to the point where you internalize every word – verbatim.” Anderson says you should eschew reading it or using a teleprompter. It creates too much distance between you and the audience. Memorizing the speech or going with bullet points on cards is the best approach.

Develop Stage Presence

Another tip is to develop stage presence. An often made mistake of people who are presenting is that they move they’re bodies too much. People shift their weight from one leg to the other or sway from side to side. This is a natural result of being nervous but it can be distracting to the audience. When presenting, a person should aim to keep his or her lower body motionless. There are some people who are able to walk around a stage during a presentation, and that’s fine if it comes naturally, but most people are better off remaining still.

Plan Your Media

Finally, it is important to plan your media. If you are using slides make sure to practice the talk while flipping through the slides, as you would if you were actually presenting. It is easy to get lost if you skip a cue to change slides. If you are using a certain kind of software to aid in your presentation make sure you have a full understanding of how to use it before attempting the final presentation. The goal should be to fully understand the ins and outs of the software to deliver the best presentation you are able to.

Good presentation skills are a key ingredient in marketing success. It is an essential life skill that will take you far if you work to develop it. As always, practice makes perfect and the more you put into it the more you will get out of it.