At some point of time we’ve all found ourselves struggling with a PPT and preparing to overcome anxiety before a big presentation. Presentation skills have become a part and parcel of having a job, in most situations, which might be a struggle for those of us whose education didn’t include a lot of extempore speaking and poetry recitation.
Still, like everything else, presentation skills are grown over the years, especially through practice. Here are some ways to not just get through that presentation, but to also do it satisfactorily:
Arrange your slides in a logical sequence of thought.
Slide shows are as much a benefit to you as your audience. Make your slides a way to peg thoughts and to move forward in a unified narrative. So, rather than arranging them as a series of parallel ideas, try and make a single flow that moves towards a coherent conclusion.
Try it out on someone who’s not connected with the work itself.
One of the best testing grounds for a presentation is the unconnected observer. If you can manage to get this person, family or friend, to stay interested and to understand at least the basics of what you’re presenting, then you know you’re on to something.
Make eye contact with your audience.
It’s tempting to focus on your notes or to mumble at your slides, but it’s surprisingly encouraging to make eye contact with your audience instead. It reminds you that you’re talking to people, just like yourself, and that you’re being heard.
Make it interactive.
An interactive presentation that requires some bouncing of ideas or Q&A with your audience really helps with keeping people awake and engaged. It’s also a great way to add to and develop your thought process.
Breathe slow, breathe deep.
Once you’re up in front of people, it’s important to keep yourself in a relative state of calm. If you find yourself gasping for breath then you know that you’ve started speaking too fast or too long. Take slow breaths, finish your sentences, and give yourself the space to move forward.
Remember, presentation skills are useful tools to develop throughout your work life. An engaged and responsive audience is also its own reward.