We've all given presentations at one time or another. From classes to conferences, workshops to concert settings, presentations are a proven method for sharing information, knowledge, and resources in a succinct, interesting, and engaging way. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking about that time you sat through a presentation that was so boring, you thought your head might explode. Really? Presentations are interesting and engaging?
Hear me out. Presentations don't have to be stale or boring or by the book - mix it up! Make your presentation style unique and engaging by adding in your own personality and by thinking about it from your audience's perspective. Here are 10 stellar strategies for making your next presentation the best ever:
Start with an outline.
This may go without saying, but the best way I've found to organize my thoughts and think about the bigger picture is to create an outline. Jot it down, draw a flowchart, rearrange index cards - whatever it takes.
Keep it simple.
When creating the visual component of your presentation, remember to keep it simple. Bullets are much easier for the audience to follow than large blocks of text. Keep the font size readable (think about the room you'll be presenting in) and use images to communicate your point(s) when you can.
Write out a summary.
The details are important, but so is the overall message you are trying to share. Can you summarize your entire presentation in one sentence? Try it. This will give you a clear focus that will guide everything else.
Don't rely on technology. Just don't. Take an extra adapter. Bring a copy of your presentation on a thumb drive, have a copy (and maybe a PDF, too) in your email, and have a backup plan in case technology fails. What would you do if there wasn't a projector in the room when you arrived? (It's happened to me.)
When speaking, remember to be yourself. Be authentic, be genuine, be honest. People connect with people, not robots. So be you and let your personality shine through.
Tell a story.
People love stories. And if you have a relevant story that helps illustrate a point you are trying to make, by all means, tell it! Bonus points if it's a true story that happened to you (a check in the "Be Real" box).
Take your time.
It's easy to let nerves take over, but try to remind yourself to speak slowly and clearly, take pauses, and breathe. You'll come off as polished and confident (and you won't be gasping for air after the first few minutes).
Keep it moving.
At the same time, remember that pace is everything. Don't stay on one slide forever and don't tell the long version of that story you added in the middle. Keep it short and succinct and keep it moving.
Practice, practice, practice.
Delivery is everything. If you're not a natural public speaker, make sure to give yourself plenty of opportunities to practice talking through your presentation. The more you practice, the better you'll know what you want to say (and how you want to say it), and the more comfortable you'll feel when the real presentation rolls around.
Introduce yourself at the beginning, thank people for coming and for asking questions, and don't forget to smile!
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