Get Lucky at Your Next Presentation
Even if you don’t suffer from crippling stage fright, it’s common to feel nervous in front of a large crowd. Public speaking is the most common social phobia, and some people fear it more than death itself. Even when speaking about something for which we are experts, presentation anxiety can make our minds go blank, our faces blush, and our nerves rattle. Regardless of fear, there are many things a presenter can do to clearly communicate their story to an audience. Is it memorable? Easy to follow? Amusing? Presented below are some tips to hone your presentation style and help you get *lucky* when presenting to clients.
Know Your Material
When you are presenting, you are an actor and your presentation is a performance! In your mind, you see exactly how you’d like the presentation to go, however, it likely won’t go exactly as planned. Bumps in the road are easier to accommodate if you’ve memorized and practiced the material. Whether it is a persuasive or informative presentation, either scenario will require you to know the material without looking at the slides. Fully understanding what it is you’re presenting will make it easier to relax, easier to be flexible, and easier to come back from a slipup.
Aside from knowing your material, one key to presenting well is confidence. Confidence is your barrier between meek body language, quiet voice, uncertain delivery and presentation success! Have notes ready, but try not to look at them. If your mind goes blank, peek at the talking points, pick one person in the room to speak to, and explain your talking points to them as if he or she were the only one there. Focus on your role as the informant, the audience needs for you to explain these points. It’s your duty. Practicing will help you prepare, but you must also prepare yourself mentally. Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in, but will also give a good first impression.
Enunciate, speak slowly and clearly, and remember to breathe. Don’t rely on “conversation fillers” to be your nervous crutch. These are words like “like”, “um”, “ya know?” and “basically”. Fillers are distracting and can detract from the audience’s impression of you. Especially if you are making a persuasive argument, it is important to appear commanding and knowledgeable. Fillers are self-sabotage. A phenomenon called “uptalk”—tone of voice most-associated with a “valley girl” dialect—has also been referenced as a presentation no-no. Uptalk makes each sentence sound like a question, denoted by a rising voice at the end of a phrase. A similar phenomenon, known as “vocal fry,” could also potentially detract from your presentation. Denoted as the reverse of “uptalk”—uptalk 2.0 if you will—, vocal fry utilizes a lowering of the voice to a mere “croaking” sound. Popularized by reality tv, vocal fry sounds guttural, apathetic, and is generally seen negatively. Depending on the client, use of fillers, uptalk or vocal fry may make you appear clumsy, tentative and unprofessional, even when you’re not!
Make It Memorable
Whether linguistically or visually, it is important that your presentation stick out in the audience’s mind. As with brand recall, you want your presentation to be memorable, accessible, and vivid enough to be easily-recalled at a later time. There are many practical tips to make a presentation memorable: have an engaging opener, clear talking points, inviting and confident body language, and make frequent eye-contact. Remember to repeat important points for emphasis. But most importantly, especially when presenting to a larger group, it might be helpful to include a digital presentation. Your visual aid can help to display statistics, list out points, and associate an image to complicated concepts. Use animations to help explain ideas that cannot be easily explained. Use bold colors to attract attention and plenty of negative space to make points easy to follow. A presentation will also give your audience something else to look at other than you.
Leave Them WOWed
You can end your presentation in a variety of ways. You could leave with an inspirational quote, the ending to a story, or an entertaining joke. Steve Jobs was considered the innovator of presentations. He left an auditorium feeling inspired by his product, and thus compelled to buy it. However you choose to close-out, always remember to circle back to your main points and enlist a call to action. Your call to action could be as committed as a request to close the deal, or as passive as a link to download your ebook.
Regardless of your presentation style, our designers can create the visuals you need to inform or persuade. You do the talking, but leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals. Consult a designer at Creative Juice to discuss how you can end your presentation with a bang!