Public speaking is often an intimidating prospect, but it’s a valuable skill and one that will not only get you through university, but the workplace too. Learning how to speak confidently in front of a room of colleagues, lecturers, mentors and friends is certainly an art form, and one that takes considerable time to master. Here are 5 tips to help you perfect your presentation skills.
1 Be prepared
It doesn’t matter if you’re faking it, confidence is key to making a successful presentation. When you’re nervous and it’s obvious, it makes the audience feel uncomfortable. No doubt most people will be nervous but learning to speak with confidence regardless, is an art form. The best way to build your confidence is to be prepared. Practice makes perfect and if you’re comfortable with your material, you’ll be more relaxed being in front of a crowd.
2 Think about what you’re going to wear
It may sound trivial but your outfit on the day is very important. Not only will it determine how professional you look, but also how comfortable you feel. Choose an outfit that you love and represents you as a speaker. Don’t wear anything too distracting or brightly coloured. Avoid new clothes that are itchy or new shoes that are bound to hurt your feet. You want your mind to be entirely on your presentation and not on how sore your feet are getting.
3 Create a killer presentation
These days, a speaker rarely gets up in front of a crowd without a powerpoint presentation of some kind in tow. Make sure yours is amazing. The crowd will not just be watching you, but they’ll be reading your presentation word for word. One typo or spelling mistake can completely taint your credibility. Don’t go too fancy with animations and video unless your 100% confident you can get them to work on the day – nobody needs the extra stress.
4 Get excited about your topic
Even if you think your topic is boring, you need to find a way to get excited about it. If you are enthusiastic about the content of your presentation, you will entice the audience to feel the same way. Think about what your audience will want to know or learn, and how you can present that in an interesting and captivating way. Use your hands and body language to translate your excitement. Don’t just read through your presentation, improvise, give good eye contact and talk through it like you would with a friend.
5 Be a storyteller
Nothing is more enticing than a good story. Whether you open with an anecdote or cleverly intertwine stories throughout your speech, nothing will keep your audience more captivated. What’s even more important, is while most of your presentation may be forgotten, the funny, interesting or relatable stories will easily be remembered – and maybe even retold.