By the SMU Social Media Team
Not everyone is a natural when it comes to the art of presentation. Even the best of us could experience jitters from just standing in front of an audience, or be traumatised about having flubbed an important presentation in the past.
An important skill to have whether you’re discussing a case study in class or a business plan at work, don’t underestimate the power of a great presentation. Captivate your audience and make an impact with these tips.
Develop your content
Content is the foundation of all great presentations. Don’t skimp on the preparation and research as these form the solid groundwork for your presentation. Start by identifying the objectives, what it means to your target audience and build it up from there. Knowing your topic inside out will give you the confidence to verbalise your thoughts in front of an audience—and it can be jarringly apparent when this confidence doesn’t shine through.
Prep slides to complement your speech
We’ve all been to presentations where the speaker faces the projection screen and reads off it, while those in attendance either pretend to listen or twiddle with their handphones out of boredom. You won’t want to join the ranks of these speakers.
Presentation slides are just there as a cue, not for you to read off it verbatim. Develop your slides to support and enhance your points. Also, LESS is MORE. Don’t squeeze all the info you can into your slides—yes, that means not jam-packing text that’s in font size 10 into 30 slides. No one’s going to be able to read it and it’ll just take the focus away from what you’re presenting.
Breathe and speak slowly
There’s a natural tendency to breathe shallowly when you’re anxious. That, coupled with the urge to rush through the presentation, is a sure giveaway that you’re nervous or unsure. To calm those frazzled nerves, try taking a few deep breathes before your presentation.
While you’re presenting, it’s OK to pause for a moment to breathe and regroup your thoughts. Don’t treat the presentation like something that you can’t wait to get over with—rather, take the time to explain your carefully thought-out content clearly and be concise with the points you’re trying to convey.
Keep it short and simple
People generally have short attention spans and you need to get the message across succinctly, before they start to tune out. Keep to simple explanations and support your points with charts or visuals. Avoid jargons and complex terms or references—instead of making you appear smart, it could backfire and isolate you from the audience.
Practice makes perfect
As clichéd as it may sound, practice does make perfect. There’s no two ways around it, particularly if you’re likely to freeze like a deer in headlight under pressure.
Practising your delivery in front of a mirror allows you to check your body language—whether you’re frowning or gesturing too much, or pacing around as you speak. It also enables you to gauge if the presentation is too short or too long. As you rehearse, continually refine your ideas and restructure your presentation, to ensure that it flows well while being able to retain the attention of your audience.
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