But, while 10% of people excel when giving presentations, a similar number have an extreme fear of them, experience panic attacks, anxiety and even melt-down.
Where do you stand on this spectrum? And how can you improve your own presentation skills? We have some simple steps to follow to help improve your presentation skills.
1. Identify the purpose of your training presentation
What are you trying to achieve? For example, are you trying to increase awareness, communicating a change in legislation, explaining real world experiences, or motivating the audience to change their working practices? How will you quantify success?
2. Identify your target audience
Who is your intended audience? What level are they at? What prior knowledge might they have (what do they already know), etc?
3. Define your call to action
Always try to end your presentation on a high. Your audience may find this part the most memorable. State your learning objectives at the start of your presentation. Motivate the audience to reflect on what they've learnt, apply it to their own job or act on your message in some way.
4. Split your presentation into 3 parts
Planning and preparation, delivery and the big ending. This makes it more manageable enabling you to focus on each area.
5. Create a script
What exactly will you say and how will you say it? How much should you say? (Saying too much will bore your audience.) Should you ad-lib? Will you need a slideshow? How can you make sure you cover all the points but still come across as genuine? Have a crib-sheet with the key points.
If you are video conferencing, having two screens will help, as you can see your presentation on one screen and use the second for your script to respond to any feedback.
5. Choose an appropriate delivery mechanism
What's the best way of communicating with your audience? What's likely to appeal to them? How can you engage them? Should you have break-out groups, audience participation, voting, a Q&A, a demonstration, etc?
Always ensure that your internal or external venue has all the facilities you need.
- Face-to-face at your office
- Face-to-face at an external venue
- Instructor-led e-learning
- Informal (i.e. video conferencing)
7. Practise, practise and practise
Practise really does makes perfect. Rehearse your presentation with your colleagues. Or if it is not commercially sensitive why not try it with family or friends?
The more comfortable you are with what you're saying and how you deliver it, the better it will be.
8. Use positive body language
Use positive body language, including making eye contact with different people around the room, using open - rather than defensive - gestures, and avoiding any distracting mannerisms (such as jangling coins or keys).
If your presentation is via video conferencing make sure your lighting is good and use background blurring if you feel that your setting could be distracting.
9. Channel your adrenaline positively
Adrenaline affects people in different ways - some presenters dance around the room, some race through the script to the end, while others are rooted to the spot, devoid of all emotion.
Remember that all these responses are completely natural - prepare mentally like an actor who's about to go on stage.
10. Have a backup
If you're using technology, have a backup in case of equipment failure. Don't get flummoxed by a poor WiFi connection, and let all your preparations go to waste.
Remember that if you are video conferencing it is important that the learners have a good WiFi connection too!
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