The thought of standing before a group of people to give a presentation is enough to leave anyone with a bad case of nerves. Often a presenter’s greatest fear is that people will either find the presentation dull or them, as a presenter, boring. They can’t help but wonder how other presenters can come across so self-confident or how they hold everyone’s attention. However, it’s not as hard as it seems if you are prepared, know what to do, what to say and how to capture the attention of everyone listening.
One key factor people lock onto when preparing for a presentation is rehearsing their speech, often to the point they sound monotone and dull. A presenter who seems bored and disinterested in what he or she is saying cues the audience to feel the same way. To keep the audience’s full attention, allow the speech to flow naturally, to show your passion and belief in the project. Thus, while rehearsing the speech is good, allowing for enough ad-lib to add life and sparkle will make the presentation flow much better.
The Rule of Eye Contact
Nervous presenters tend to look at their charts, the table or anywhere other than their audience. Most likely, they’re worried they’ll see signs people are bored or horrified rather than intrigued and captivated. The problem is, in order to truly reach the audience, you need to make eye contact and draw the people into the presentation. However, if it’s a presentation where you need to pitch or get an idea across, don’t only focus on the primary decision maker. Chances are everybody attending the presentation has a voice the decision maker will listen to them, as well as you, so you need to sell your ideas to everyone in the room.
Speak to the Audience, Don’t Talk at Them
Most people hate the thought of someone talking at them rather than speaking to them. Needless to say, successful presenters speak to their audience and invite the people to express their thoughts or ask questions. In short, they get the audience involved, making them feel like they’re a part of something rather than witnessing something. Involving the audience drives up energy and passion, resulting in more interest and support.
The best presenters in the world use visual aids to help their audience see what they’re saying, to share their vision. They do so because they understand some people are auditory learners while others are visual learners. By combining both auditory and visual, you are more likely to reach everyone in the audience. Thus, you should put a picture to the words through slide shows, charts and diagrams. However, don’t rely on the visual aspects of the speech too much. Visual aids are intended to do just that, aid your presentation. Too many visuals can leave the audience confused.
The idea of having fun while giving a presentation may seem alien, but a good laugh breaks the tension and the monotony. More to the point, laughter keeps everyone alert and on their toes, so they don’t miss key points. Not to mention, people are more apt to remember everything the presenter said when they enjoyed themselves. A little laughter goes a long way!