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How to Present: 8 Presentation Tips from the Pros

How to Present: 8 Presentation Tips from the Pros

Presenting

Jess Pham 15 Jun 2022 6 min read

Presenting isn’t a new concept, but it can be very stressful if you’re new to it or your only experience is watching the seasoned pros smash it out of the park.

But don’t worry. We know a thing or two about presenting, and we’ve put together 8 tried-and-tested presentation tips that will help you to impress your audience and fight off that dreaded fear of looking out over a sea of bored faces.

So, take a deep breath and try out some of these pro techniques to crush your presentation.

8 Presentation Tips to Ace Your Presentation

Presenting to a group is scary, whether it’s to 3 people on a Zoom call or standing up in front of a full class. Regardless of your experience, there will always be some degree of worry that arises when called upon to stand in front of a crowd and speak.

Being good at presenting doesn’t come naturally to most people, it takes years of practice to build up the confidence and skills that make presentations engaging. You can help yourself by preparing and practising to give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.

Here are 8 top tips that you can try in your presentation to make sure you ace it!

Nailing Your Delivery

The physical act of presenting can look easy, but when you try it for yourself, it might not be so natural. Still, there are a number of ways that you, as the presenter, can create an illusion of confidence that will put both you and your audience at ease.

#1 – Use Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful tool that helps us to relay sometimes complex ideas and thoughts to our audiences, and it can be useful in many different scenarios. 

When you are presenting to a class, boardroom or even a conference hall, you are the expert. 

You have spent the hours and hours researching the topic, you have formed ideas, and you have created a way to relay everything you’ve learned to your audience. 

You can find and create stories that illustrate your ideas and help transfer your wealth of knowledge to your audience, and make it memorable for them. Crafting stories helps you to simplify ideas and tap into the imagination of your audience.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination circles the world.” – Albert Einstein

#2 – Talk to Your Audience, Not at Them

Your audience will be as interested in the topic as you are, you just need to show enthusiasm. 

Think about a time when you’ve watched a presentation where the presenter is speaking with a monotone voice, hardly making eye contact, or just reeling off information without engaging with the audience – these presentations can be hard to listen to, and it can be tricky to stop your mind wandering elsewhere. 

Now think about an engaging presenter, possibly a teacher or famous face who you have seen doing public speaking. What do they do that makes them interesting to watch?

They speak passionately about the topic they’re presenting (even if it’s not particularly interesting!)

Not everyone in the audience is going to be interested in every presentation, sometimes a topic is just not relevant to that person’s skill set or experience. But, if you are presenting to a room of people, they are in the room for a reason, and that reason is a shared interest in the very thing that you’re presenting – so offer enthusiasm!

#3 – Use Positive Body Language

Positive body language goes a long way when it comes to engaging your audience. Political figures and TV presenters are trained in ways to use body language to keep an audience focused and encourage them to remember the key points that they are saying.

An image of a presenter with different positive body language postures

Here is a quick list that you can try when you practice your presentation.

  • Stand up straight, with your shoulders back.
  • Make eye contact with your audience. Move from face to face.
  • Open up your body, do not cross your arms or put your hands in your pockets.
  • Use gestures to emphasise as you speak. This could be hand gestures or simple things like nodding or smiling when someone asks a question. 
  • Take advantage of facial expressions. They will set the tone and help an audience relax.
  • Move around the space a bit if it makes sense to do so. It will make you appear relaxed and put your audience at ease.

Nailing Your Slide Deck

It’s quite common for most presenters to miss out on creating an awesome slide deck because they put too much time and effort into the content and delivery and completely ignore the complete appeal of the slides. Let’s take a look at some of the ways to create an impressive slide deck without having to break your head.

#4 – Make Presentations Interactive

The worst fear for a presenter is to see bored faces looking back at you when you’re trying your best to give an engaging presentation.

One of the best ways to encourage this engagement is to keep your audience involved. This could be by asking open-ended questions, encouraging discussion or asking for other opinions within your presentation. 

Interactive presentations can be excellent for this, and provide constant ways to keep your audience involved. Tools like AhaSlides will let you add interactive quizzes, Q&As and even polls to help keep your entire audience engaged and invested in the topic you’re presenting.

A gif of interactive slides on AhaSlides.

#5 – Use Your Slide Design to Your Advantage

If you do choose to use one of these interactive presentation tools, many will come with pre-made templates to help make designing your presentation easy.

If you decide to create a slideshow from scratch, here are some design tips that can help you use your slides to your advantage,

  • Don’t use too much text. – Slideshows are visual aids to help you illustrate what you’re saying, you shouldn’t have slides filled with every word you say.
  • Take advantage of a visual hierarchy. – A visual hierarchy helps to prioritise important information and make it pop for your audience. It could be having bigger or bolder text, underlining keywords, using bolder colours or even leaving more space around important elements to focus your audience’s attention.
  • Don’t use more than 3 fonts. – Styling should be consistent across a presentation and shouldn’t distract from the content. Choose a clear font for your titles, subtitles, and main body text, and always use it in the same way.

Nailing Your Content

People tend to lose attention when you don’t have interesting content to showcase. As much as they focus on your delivery, you need to ensure that you are adding some value to them. Here’s how to do that.

#6 – Back Up Your Ideas

Presentations are designed to persuade and inform. Using evidence will help you to convey your message to your audience, and build trust that what you’re saying is genuine.

If you are doing a presentation for school or work, cite your sources to show your audience that your information is reliable. Keep in mind that some sources are more reliable than others and you want to be confident in the details – especially if you’re going to be fielding questions.

You can use charts, data or in-depth analysis to illustrate your ideas or even quotes from leading experts or recognised organisations.

#7 – Memorise Key Points

Memorising a presentation word-for-word, for most people, just isn’t possible. Instead, we can provide ourselves with prompts and aids to help us communicate key points and arguments.

Trying to remember too much information can lead to confusion for an audience and very bumpy presentation delivery, so instead, prepare to speak naturally about key points that you have memorised.

Whilst you can’t remember every word, you can definitely try to at least remember some key points. Here are a few useful ways to try and remember what you want to say in your presentation:

  • Mind Maps
  • Flashcards
  • Prompts in Your Slides
  • Notes

Above all, practice your presentation. As awkward as it may feel, looking at yourself in a mirror as you run through your presentation can help you to feel more relaxed, and make you more familiar with the topic and key features of your presentation.

#8 – Check Your Presentation

Before a presentation, it’s not unusual to feel nervous and anxious about how it will go. You can help to settle your nerves by ensuring you have checked everything within your control.

Presentation Checklist:

  • Is your presentation working?
  • Are any interactive elements working?
  • Are all videos and images appearing correctly?
  • Have you fact and spell checked your slides?
  • Do you have any notes or prompts that you need?
  • Have you practised and prepared to answer any potential questions?
  • Can you back up your arguments?
  • Have you arrived in plenty of time to get set up and relax before you present?

The Final Say

If you have taken all of these steps to practice and prepare, then you are doing everything you can to ensure your presentation goes well. Anything else that happens is outside of your control and could happen to anyone – whether they are prepared or not.

Armed with these presentation tips, you are ready to take on the crowd and offer up an engaging and informative experience that will help you take that step towards becoming a presentation pro!

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