Giving presentations can be a daunting challenge for many people, regardless if you’re an outgoing person who enjoys talking to people. The idea of many pairs of eyes staring at you and many brains analysing whether what you’re presenting is accurate, is, truth be told, extremely nerve-racking.
If so, how are some presenters so impactful and persuasive in their speech? No doubt practice is key, but there are many other aspects and tips to being seemingly an expert in presentations. Read on to find out!
#1. Speak slowly
We tend to speak like a bullet train when we’re nervous. Slow down. Breathe.
When you think you’re speaking at a good speed, go slower than that. Consciously slow down your speech because nervous speakers tend to speak faster than they think they’re going.
This will allow your audience to better understand what you’re saying and they will be more likely to grasp the topic you are presenting.
Pauses can also help you deliver your message better. Add pauses for emphasis and suspense, it will also make you seem composed (even if you’re not!).
#2. Don’t read
Nobody wants to give up their time to listen to your presentation only to see you reading from the slides — they can do that on their own!
To help avoid this, keep your slides free from too many words so that you won’t read off the slides. This will allow you to have more eye contact with your audience, which is crucial for any kind of presentation.
After introducing your main point, explain in your own words what you know about the point — without looking at your slides. If you’re worried you’ll freeze up and forget what to say, write down keywords or key phrases on small cue cards so you don’t forget. For example, if your point is “plants need carbon dioxide for photosynthesis”, you could write it as Plants: ✓ CO2.
#3. Use colours
There is one word to describe a presentation that has the same colour for every single slide — boring. Your audience will definitely start yawning a few minutes into your presentation if you don’t get creative with your presentation slides.
This is because colour plays a psychological role in presentations. To avoid boring your audiences, you should use different colours depending on what your subject matter is.
The colours you use do not only have to look good, but they also have to deliver the correct message and leave a lasting impression on your audience. For example, you would use green if you’re talking about the environment or use yellow if your message is all about happiness and optimism.
A huge mistake to make is not having enough colour contrast between the texts and the background — make sure you use colours that are contrasting enough if you don’t want your audience squinting their eyes to make out your slides.
#4. Ask questions
That’s right, presenters should ask questions too! This will make your presentation more interactive and engaging.
Throw in a few quizzes or questions that will help keep your audience on track. For example, before explaining your next point, quiz them about the first point that you presented or introduce your next point and ask them about their knowledge on the topic before you explain it to them.
You can also ask about their opinions on certain points — whether they agree or disagree and why as well as what could have been the solution. Try asking open-ended questions so that people can give their answer and explain it. Not only will this keep your audience from falling asleep during your presentation, but it’ll also allow you to take a break from doing all the talking!
#5. Wear red
Don’t own any red outfits? You should start adding them to your wardrobe! This is because, in the world of marketing, colours can be used to subconsciously affect target audiences and control how consumers feel about a product or service. For example, a logo that is blue can make audiences feel calm while a product that is yellow may seem playful to a consumer.
Following this theory, the colour you wear when presenting also has the potential to impact the people around you. Red, for example, is seen as the colour of excitement, desire, strength and power. This has been proven in experiments where it was found that men who wore red were rated as high in social status and with higher potential for success. In short, winners wear red.
So wearing red while presenting can send a powerful message showing that you are bold and confident.
#6. Use humour
“Laughter is the best medicine”. It really is! It’s also what makes a speaker stand out from the pack.
We’ve all been in meetings or presentations that bore us to tears. They drain our energy and make us look out the window and secretly want to be the sleeping cat under the tree. Simply reciting dry facts without any humour or passion will make people less likely to pay attention to your presentation.
So there’s no harm in throwing in some jokes or anecdotes — after all, using humour at appropriate times keeps people engaged and they’ll most likely remember your presentation even after the class or meeting is over!
Not sure if you can pull off presenting even after applying these tips? Don’t worry, no one starts off as an excellent presenter — experience and practise will eventually get you there. Just remember to be your best self and go ace it!