In the previous article, I introduced the five crucial stages in the making of a business presentation. However, as a speaker, you cannot limit yourself to these stages. There are other important factors that determine the success of a presentation. If you want to make your presentation as professional and effective as possible, here are a few tips that you can follow.
If you want to rock your presentation, you need to maintain a natural and conversational tone, just like a normal conversation. And, when you are addressing your audience, make sure you are projecting a loud and clear voice. You can find a volume that is comfortable for your audience when you practice in front of your “trial” audience.
When it comes to the language, use one which is appropriate to your audience. If you are speaking on a topic that your audience is not familiar with, do not use jargon words or phrases and define the terminology. For example, many people might not understand what the term “UNESCO” means.
It would help if you were also very careful not to speak too fast or too slowly. Again, test different rates on your “trial” audience. As with intensity, varying rates can help maintain your audience’s attention and assist in creating the mood you wish to create. Besides, strategically placed pauses can draw attention to important points you wish to make and also helps with pausing.
If you want to increase the dramatic effect of your presentation, you may consider varying the intensity of your speech. Varying the intensity of your speech is also an effective way to emphasize keywords or concepts.
A secret technique used by speakers to overcome filling nervous pauses with “uh”, “uhm” etc. is to practice the presentation a couple of times in the following way. Each time you notice yourself saying a filler word, repeat that word several times. You will become more aware of your nervous chatter, which will help you control and eventually remove it from your speech.
It is no big secret that you have to establish and maintain eye contact with the audience. Only then can you communicate confidence to your audience and will be perceived to be more credible than someone who cannot look directly at the participants.
Did you know that eye contact can also provide valuable feedback you’re your audience?
If they looked bored or sleepy, that’s an indication that your presentation is going in the wrong way. However, if you recognize that gleam of interest in their eyes, know that you are handling the presentation pretty well.
If you are a new presenter and you are having difficulty making eye contact with your audience, you may find one of the following strategies helpful to you.
• Before you begin presenting, pick a spot on the back wall (just above the audience) and deliver it to that spot.
• Over time, as you become more comfortable, pick a few friendly-looking audience members, who are scattered throughout the room, and present to them.
• As you gain experience and your confidence grows, you will begin to look more naturally at your audience while presenting to them.
I’m sure you already know you cannot make a business presentation with skinny jeans or casual wear. You will want to maintain a professional image and be comfortable at the same time. Choosing an outfit that is clean, neat, comfortable and is appropriate for the occasion will only boost your confidence and your hope of a successful presentation.
This does not mean that you must always wear a business suit. In fact, you may choose to wear a suit for formal presentations and to wear more casual business attire for informal gatherings. By analyzing your audience, you should get a pretty good idea about how formal the meeting will be, and you can choose an outfit that is appropriate to the occasion.
And, please keep your jewelry and other accessories to a minimum. Choose pieces that are discrete and complementary to your outfit. You don’t want your attire to become the focus of your presentation. Finally, as always, ensure that you are well-groomed. Go light on any makeup and even lighter on perfumes and colognes, which some audience members may be allergic to.
Gestures are a natural and common part of everyday speech.
You might be using different gestures during your presentation but they need to be appropriate to the message you wish to convey to your audience. As with visual aids, they should add to your meaning, so do not use gestures just for the sake of having them.
Furthermore, avoid keeping your hands in motion throughout your presentation. Such non-verbal behavior is distracting to your audience and can affect the meaning on any gestures that may be important to the message you are trying to convey. If you are not sure what your hands are doing while you present, videotape your next presentation (or practice session in front of “trial” audience). You will learn a lot about your non-verbal behavior and may discover distracting mannerisms that you never knew you had. Again, once you are aware of them, you can begin working to eliminate them.
Quite simply, your facial expression should be appropriate to your message. If you are talking about a solemn or serious subject, do not try to smile throughout the presentation. It will be confusing and distracting for your audience. Try to have a varied and friendly facial expression. Most importantly, be natural and true to the tone of the subject matter.
Always remember this: Your credibility as a speaker is not only determined by what you say but also partly by what you are wearing, how you present yourself and how well your audience received your message.