In high school, college, in your career, or all three, you will likely be tasked with giving a presentation to a class, group of managers or teachers, or fellow co-workers. The thought of standing up and giving a presentation in front of your peers can send many of us into a full-blown panic attack. The fear of public speaking is extremely common and affects many of us. To combat this fear, use the following tips to effectively deliver your next presentation:
Know Your Topic
When planning your presentation, make sure to familiarize yourself with the content that you will be presenting. Make sure to have your thoughts and key speaking points well organized.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Prior to your speech, make sure to rehearse it many times to ensure you’re staying within any time limitations without going over your allotted time or running through your material too quickly. Ask a friend or family member if you can practice in front of them, and request feedback on how you performed.
Incorporate an Attention-Grabbing Introduction
On presentation day, hook your audience with a funny anecdote, clever quotation, current news item, or personal reference to kick off your presentation.
Make Eye Contact
Use roving eye contact, hold it for a few seconds, and then move on to someone else at random. Make sure to include people at the back of the room.
Speak Clearly and Audibly
To command people’s attention, you need to find your voice and speak loudly enough so that you can be heard. Projecting a little too loudly is better than speaking too quietly.
While it’s tempting to hide behind the lectern, taking a few steps forward or to the side of it connects you to your audience. Changing your position and facing different sides of the room guides their attention and brings the audience’s focus to you.
Sometime during your presentation, you may become anxious or lose your train of thought. Pause, breathe, regroup, and visualize yourself successfully delivering your message.
Use Natural Hand Gestures
Utilizing appropriate body language and hand gestures gives personality to your speech. Let your hands be spontaneously expressive.
Speak with Feeling
Resist using a dull, monotone, expressionless approach. Instead, vary the pitch of your voice. Use your eyes and facial expressions to convey feeling and a degree of emotional intensity. Delivering your message with feeling and liveliness will help you better engage with your audience.
Allow Some Time for a Question-and-Answer Period
Inviting questions from the audience shows courtesy and further connects you to those with whom you’re speaking. It also gives the impression that you are a subject matter expert. Time permitting, field two or three questions from the audience and keep your answers relatively short. Remember that in your momentary role as speaker, you are the authority on the subject in question.
Use a Visual Aid or Handout When Needed
Visual aids or handouts can outline your speaking points or a list of key questions that you plan to address. Sometimes handouts can detract attention from you, so it may be best to wait to distribute them until your presentation has been completed.
With the proper amount of planning, and by applying the above techniques, you can successfully deliver an effective and memorable presentation.