We have all taken part in conferences or meetings that have terrible speakers who leave us wondering why we are there. Presentation skills are incredibly important for business professionals, but it’s not a skill that comes naturally to all people. In fact, some of the world’s most extroverted and confident people become nervous when confronted with the possibility of public speaking. Effective presentation skills require practice and dedication. Successful presenters will establish themselves as experts, promote audience engagement, and sway audience opinion. Here’s how to do it:
Know Your Stuff
Do you want to present yourself as an expert? Then be an expert. Practice your material so often that you know it inside and out. Talking about your presentation material should be second nature. When you’re so uncertain about your material, you lose your audience. Not having to worry about remembering material gives you the opportunity to truly connect with the group to whom you’re speaking. This elevates your presentation from a simple presentation of facts to an actual conversation. Preparation is key. For more information about the importance of preparation, check out our book, Dare to Prepare.
Focus on What’s Important.
Remember why you’re giving a presentation in the first place: to educate your audience members. They’re naturally interested in what you have to say; otherwise they wouldn’t be there. Don’t focus on how your voice sounds or the way you look; focus on the reason you’re there. By diverting your focus from your own performance to your audience, your presentation will become more natural and engaging.
Don’t Neglect Your Body Language
One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they lose connection with their bodies. This can make your presentation seem robotic, instead of engaging and natural. The best public speakers use natural body language and appear grounded, not robotic. There are a few surprising ways you can achieve this: some public speaking experts recommend exercises like yoga, tai chi, or dance, which connect you with your mind and body and encourage awareness of your movements.
Public speaking skills are essential for a few reasons. Effective presentations can make all the difference in actually engaging an audience, as opposed to just spewing facts at them. An engaging presenter also sets the stage for an effective negotiation by making your audience connect with the information you’re presenting. Though becoming an effective public speaker may require lots of practice, it’s well worth the effort.