Presentation Skills

Effective Presentation Skills and Public Speaking Tips

by Caug124

May 27th, 2010
3
Comments

Today there are more highly trained people in the business world than ever before. With training comes an enormous body of knowledge on all levels of business management, organizational structures, and effective sales techniques. Add to this the ready supply of new information that can be garnered quickly and easily because of the technologies of the time, and there’s a very different atmosphere than ever before. Because of this, almost everyone who’s in the business world will have to spend a good part of their time preparing effective presentations.

Presentation skills go hand in hand with public speaking, and these are invaluable skills to have and to nurture throughout one’s career, and there’s no end to the learning here. Most people are aware that public speaking is the number one fear for most of us, but not everyone has the chance to improve their skills. Becoming adept at public speaking, as well as giving effective presentations, is something that has to be acquired through practice and doing, but there are certain ways to improve one’s skills even before hitting the floor and talking to a group of strangers.

The single-most effective tip, then, for any kind of public presentation, is to prepare. Knowing the material well, and knowing it in advance, can give any speaker a certain confidence, and this confidence is usually capable of overriding any nervousness or anxieties about delivering in public.

Remembering, too, that we live in a visual culture, now more than ever, is helpful in preparation. Any opportunity to provide visuals is going to increase a presentation’s effectiveness, and also give the audience more trust in the speaker.

It’s also necessary to remember that the audience really is on your side. Speaking to them with the assumption that they’re your friends is one way to short-circuit the fear of speaking, since it begins with the idea that everyone is on common ground.

Becoming flexible in one’s presentation is the next step, and that’s one that can be learned through training, giving the necessary skills that will deliver every time.

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  1. Jay Goldman /

    Being an effective presenter is one of the skills I most value. It’s opened a lot of doors for me — just today I was asked to step in for a colleague and a 5 minute brief to a room of 800 executives because he knew I’d have no problem with it.

    I absolutely agree on the value of preparation: I was pacing backstage going over my 5 minutes for about 20 minutes beforehand. It’s impossible to be succinct and meaningful without knowing where you’re going and sticking to the script. The worst presenters start with “I had a whole talk prepared for today but I’ve decided to wing it instead”.

    There are lots of great resources out there to help you be a better presenter. I’m a big fan of http://www.presentationzen.com/, which analyzes really great presentations and helps you understand how to be more like them.

    Speaking of zen-like presenters, here’s a handy Google Search for “how to present like Steve Jobs”, which will get you a long way toward achieving true Presentation Zen: http://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=present+like+steve+jobs.

    Spend some time surfing the most favorited presentations on http://www.slideshare.net/most-favorited. Although you won’t usually get the true effect of the talk (you mostly just get the slides — some presenters are starting to upload audio or video to go with them), seeing how people construct their slides can be hugely helpful.

    Lastly, make sure you get feedback on how your talk went so that you can be better prepared for the next one. I use the Insight feature of Rypple to ask the audience for anonymous feedback after every talk. I like to ask questions like “What’s one thing I can do to improve my ______ presentation?”. Here’s an example: http://bit.ly/ddV8Ui

    Takes less than a minute to get sign up and you can generate a unique URL for every talk you give it out on your final slide. You can also send the question by email to all of the attendees if you have access to the list. You’ll get really honest, immediate feedback that can make a big difference for the next time!

    • Tom Ashworth /

      I went to: http://bit.ly/ddV8Ui and really liked how it was set up for feedback. I’m not sure how to sign up though. Help!

  2. Guy Farmer /

    Great tips. I’ve also found it helpful to speak from the heart. Content is important but what really connects you with the audience is to genuinely care about the subject matter. Another thing to think about is to worry less about how you’re doing as a speaker and more about what the audience is getting out of it. It helps to make sure we’re tuned into the audience’s needs and receptive to their questions and feedback so that it becomes their show and not ours. It’s like relationship building on a larger scale.