My top ten tips on how to be a better presenter
Do you fear speaking in public? As someone who was once petrified of presenting I have now personally delivered over 300 professional seminars, workshops, and keynotes all around the world. Public speaking can be a challenge and is often perceived as a very stressful thing to do. When we stand up to do our 40 second pitch we are essentially presenting. In fact, most networking groups have the opportunity to present for longer periods too, (4N's 4Sight slot, for example). By following these simple tips not only will you become a better presenter but you will enjoy it a whole lot more too.
1. Got a PowerPoint? keep it visually interesting - Keep them clean, not too wordy and relative to the presentation. They should just be a visual representation of the subject. The audience isn't there to read your slides; they are there to listen to you present.
2. Engage with the audience - Make eye contact with everyone throughout the room. If you don't do this then you aren't engaging the audience, you are just talking to yourself. Each person should feel like you are speaking to them personally.
3. Deliver with a passion - It's amazing how catchy enthusiasm is. If your voice is expressive and your gestures animated, you will appear confident and passionate.
4. Make them laugh - Have some fun! Although you want to educate your audience, you need to make them laugh too, it keeps the audience alert and they'll learn more from you than someone who just educates.
5. Ask questions - People hate it when they get talked at, so don't do it. You need to interact with your audience and create a conversation. The easiest way to do this is to ask them questions as well as letting them ask you questions.
6. Be human -Simply be truthful to your audience. Telling the truth and being human will earn you respect and people will trust you for your honesty. Putting yourself on a pedestal and being super-human can work against you. So, tell them how it is.
7. Don't over prepare - Of course, you need to be prepared enough to know what you are going to talk about but just enough to make sure your presentation flows naturally and not sound memorized. Experienced speakers will tell you not to rehearse your presentation too much because then it won't sound natural.
8. Show some movement - Keep yourself moving. People will stay engaged if you are animated. If you have a large audience or big stage make sure you spend an equal amount of time in front of all of your audience. Being animated also helps display a sense of passion too.
9. Watch what you say - You may not notice when you say words like "uhm" or "ah", but the audience does. If you use them a lot when presenting it can get quite irritating; so much that some members of the audience will probably count how many times you say these useless words and tell you!
10.Don't read directly from your notes - One of the most common mistakes made by first time speakers is to stand up and read directly from notes. If a speaker is looking down at a page of notes it does not allow them to engage eye contact with the audience to hold their interest. As alternative, bullet point key messages that you wish to get across on cue cards to keep you on track and it won't sound so scripted.
Follow these simple tips and your pitches, 4sights and presentations will be fun, interesting, and rewarding for both you and your audience.
Ian Dickson - International Speaker and Former European Seminar Coach of the Year.