Developing Awesome Presentation Skills

Developing Awesome Presentation Skills

What’s the difference between a dry lecture and dynamic presentation?

Whether you’re delivering a speech, conducting a workshop, presenting a new product idea or leading a teleclass, the answer is still the same: interaction.

When speaking, the goal is to connect to your audience in a personal way so your message will have more of an impact. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to constantly ask questions and aggressively involve your listeners verbally. What it does mean, however, is that you have to build a rapport with them. Although this is developed partially by the verbal content of your presentation, a good portion of it comes from less obvious—and often nonverbal—elements. Below is a list of ways to build rapport…while still being discreet about it. 

  • Start off with a bang. Begin your presentation with an interesting introduction. Introductions warm up an audience not only to your topic, but to you as a speaker as well. It’s useful to view your introduction as a snapshot of what a listener can expect from the rest of your presentation. First impressions are powerful, so make the most of yours. 
  • Speak to “one” person. When speaking to a group, it’s easy to get impersonal. To avoid this, imagine you’re speaking to only one person at a time. Powerful presenters have a way of making each listener feel spoken to directly. 
  • Make eye contact. It’s pretty basic stuff. If you look people in the eye, you connect with them more directly. Of course, if you’re delivering your presentation or leading a class over the phone or Internet, your voice will have to convey this element of “I see you.” 
  • Control your speed. Although it’s obvious advice, it’s easy to forget when you’re nervous: don’t talk too fast or too slowly. Talking too fast will make you appear uneasy, and listeners won’t be able to catch everything you say. Talking too slowly makes you appear boring and dull…yawn! Try to find that middle ground where your natural personality is free to express itself. 
  • Shake it up. Vary the volume and rate of your speech—appropriate to your point, of course. When we talk to our friends one-on-one, we naturally vary these elements as our emotions and emphases shift. If you do this in your presentation, you’ll come across as more human. And more interesting. 
  • Don’t be afraid to pause. The strategic use of pauses can make a point more dramatic and interesting to listen to, and as a result, more memorable. 
  • Humor always helps. Although you’re aiming for a professional image, who says professionals shouldn’t laugh? If you can make a joke (a funny one only!) or tell a humorous anecdote, go for it. Humor is the ultimate magnet in that it makes you more “real” and likeable. 
  • It’s about them, not you. Instead of simply conveying information and the things you do (explaining features), couch this information in the form of a benefit. In other words, make it clear how it will make a positive difference in your listener’s life.
Author’s content used with permission, © Claire Communications.