1. Preparation is key
If you have a presentation to do, no matter how well you know the subject, don’t think you can just make it up as you go along. Preparation is very important, and you need to make sure that you have a structure to your presentation to ensure your audience is engaged and your content is clear.
Practising what you’re going to say is the best way to make sure it all works, and helps your confidence while doing it. You can practice in the mirror, or get a friend to watch you and give you feedback on what could be improved. Either way, make sure you’re familiar with what you plan to say so that you can present it professionally and succinctly.
3. Consider your personal presentation
This is more than just looking nice on the day of the presentation, although looking professional is also important. Make sure there’s nothing about you that could distract your audience away from what you’re saying, including your body language.
Stand up straight and make relevant gestures to keep your audience engaged, and don’t chew gum or fiddle with any jewellery or accessories you may be wearing.
4. Smile and make eye contact
An audience will respond better to you if you’re open and friendly from the beginning of your presentation. Make brief eye contact with members of the audience while presenting, and smile when you introduce yourself and when you’re taking any questions. This will make the audience feel more engaged, so they’ll be more likely to listen to what you’re saying. We have a great session on making an impactful first impression on 15 February which is worth attending.
5. If you have slides, don’t read off them
If you’re reading your presentation word-for-word off your PowerPoint slides then nobody in the audience will be listening to you because they’ll be able to read it already.
Having large blocks of text on your slides is a bad idea as it’s distracting from what you’re saying. If you’re using slides, have them compliment what you’re talking about rather than repeating everything you say.
6. Wear a watch, or make sure you can see a clock
Make sure you can keep track of the time whilst doing your presentation so that you can maintain balance and ensure that you can present all the information you intended to. Having a clock or watch in easy view is a great way to be aware of when you need to move onto the next part of your presentation. However, be subtle when checking the time as otherwise you’ll look distracted to your audience!
7. Imagine you’re in the audience
When you’re going through your presentation, are there any details the audience might not understand? Put yourself in the audience and try and see whether you would understand everything you’re saying if somebody else was saying it.
This also goes for any references or jokes (if you’re including jokes) – will everyone in the audience appreciate them? And, if not, how can you improve them, or can they be left out?
8. Keep your slideshow concise and even
You should be asking yourself this throughout writing your presentation: What’s your point? And how does what you’re saying contribute to making this point? There are various methods that can help you keep your presentation balanced, but the two main styles are the 20-20 and the 10-20-30.
The 20-20 style is for shorter presentations, and says you should have 20 slides that are on-screen for 20 second each. The 10-20-30 style is for longer presentations, where you have ten slides for a total presentation of 20 minutes, and the font size on your slides should be minimum 30pt.
These are just two possible sets of guidelines, so it’s up to you how to do your presentation. Just make sure that the information is clear and evenly spread.
9. Don’t rush it
When you’re actually giving the presentation, it’s easy to rush through it without giving the audience time to take in what you’re saying. Time yourself when you’re practising, and find a speed that works with your allotted time and keeps everything you’re saying clear and concise.
10. Don’t panic
The people watching you will know that doing a presentation can be quite stressful, so don’t start panicking if you make a mistake or have to go over something again. Practising will help with this, so as long as you’re prepared you should do fine!