15 Simple Steps to Deliver Awesome Presentations

1) Know Your Material & Practice

While the audience may not know the material you are presenting, they are no strangers to perception. They will know if you are unprepared! If this happens, you will lose interest and respect as a presenter by the second. On the other hand, if you go into a presentation being completely prepared, your audience will respect your knowledge and be more likely to stay riveted to the material. Additionally, practicing your presentation in front of a mirror or on film will make a huge difference for the art of this craft. Actors often record their performances and analyze how well they did. Seeing yourself from the outside is very enlightening and educational. Why not give it a try and see how you can improve?

2) Always Arrive Early & Be Prepared

In addition to having your material prepared, a presenter should arrive early and have the environment ready for the presentation. This means making sure the technology you are using is working and that your cell phone is turned off. If you do not take the time to ensure that your presentation set-up is perfect, there is a high likelihood that something will go wrong and the presentation will stop in its tracks. Not only will your audience remember you for this, but the establishment that invited you to present will remember it as well. Don’t take any chances. Be prepared.

3) Stand by the Door and Cheerfully Greet People as They Arrive

First impressions are made within an extremely short period of time. If a participant walks into a presentation room and notices the presenter sitting in a corner or fumbling through papers, they are going to begin making assumptions about that person before the presentation even starts. You could be viewed as unprepared, incompetent, or any number of preconceived judgements. That’s why it’s important to make a powerful first impression. Greeting participants at the door with a smile is an easy way to exhibit confidence, professionalism, and kindness from the start. It will make a big difference for you as a presenter and will improve the entire presentation experience for everyone.

4) Know Your Audience and Focus on Their Needs, Challenges and Concerns

A good presentation spoken to the wrong ears is not a good presentation. It’s important to know the audience you are presenting to and craft that presentation to work for them. A good presenter takes into account what the audience needs and gives it to them. With that in mind, you will find yourself inspiring and influencing more and more people. A presentation of this kind will result in far more positive experiences from participants.

5) Have a Strong Opening and a Strong Closing

Learn the art of a strong introduction and conclusion. Surely you learned about this when it comes to writing essays. The same applies to presentations. A good opening should draw people in and prepare them for the content of the presentation. A good closing will bring everything together and leave participants educated and inspired.

6) Always Use Your Own Style

Remember that a presentation is just a conversation with a larger group of people. The best conversations happen when you are true to yourself and speak in a natural way. Imagine talking to a friend or business colleague in the way you make presentations. Would it go over well? If the answer is no, you might need to rethink how you go about making presentations.

7) Have a Few Pauses in Your Presentations

People need a little time to absorb the main points of your presentation. Steamrolling through the content you are presenting is counterproductive. It’s important to give your audience time to digest the information. After you create an outline for the presentation, try to identify the big moments and determine a way to emphasize them with silence or breaks. If you ever watch a drama on television, you’ll notice they put commercial breaks right after the big moments. There’s a reason for this. Think of this process as a director might. How can you influence your audience in the best way possible?

8) Use Vocal Variety

Don’t be boring! How you present your voice can make a big difference in how you are percieved during a presentation. A monotone voice is bad idea. If you’ve ever seen the famous movie Ferris Bueller, you might remember the high school teacher calling out “Bueller” in the most monotone voice imaginable. That scene is funny because everyone watching remembers a boring teacher they once had. Don’t be that type of presenter. Put some personality into what you do.

9) Have Fun / Use Humor

This goes along well with the above suggestion. Not only should you avoid a monotone voice, but you should think about making your presentation fun. The best presenters have their audience laughing and learning at the same time. These types of presenters are unforgettable. The good news is that you don’t have to be a comedian to be a good presenter. A sense of humor is all you need to win over an audience.

10) Share Stories, Anecdotes, Examples, and Questions

Stories, anecdotes, examples, and questions are all wonderful ways to break the monotony of a lecture-like presentation. Try to share one every 5 to 10 minutes. Keep in mind that people learn and digest information in many different ways. Some people prefer long-winded lectures, but most people need a little something extra to keep things interesting and relatable. Questions are particularly engaging in that they make your presentation interactive.

11) Use Relevant Stories

Relevant stories are what people will remember. Don’t just tell any story to keep things interesting. If you tell an interesting story that directly relates to the content of your presentation, you will draw your audience in and drive home the points you’re trying to make. Don’t let stories be a distraction. Make sure the stories emphasize your presentation as a whole.

12) Exaggerate Your Body Language and Expressions

Have you ever seen a stage actor up close with their makeup on? You’ll be surprised to see that stage makeup is usually very strong, exaggerated, and bold. It’s very off-putting to see up close, but it works wonders on the stage. The reason for this is that distance and lighting diminishes all the work that the actor is doing with their face. The same will be true of your facial expressions and body language. I’m not suggesting you use stage makeup, but I am suggesting that you exaggerate your body language and expressions. It may seem like overkill, but it’s exactly what your audience needs to stay riveted and get the full effect of what you’re doing on stage. Additionally, don’t forget to smile and make eye-contact with everyone at least once during each presentation.

13) Be Enthusiastic / Have Energy

Audiences will be more convinced by your energy, enthusiasm and conviction than anything else. For every person in the room, you’ll need that much more energy to win them all over. I’ve seen bored audiences turn into engaged and energized audiences within seconds due to an enthusiastic and energetic presenter. Your energy can do wonders for a presentation. I can’t recommend it enough.

14) Watch Your Language

Be politically correct and avoid talking about any potentially offensive or controversial subjects such as sex, politics and religion. One wrong word can turn an entire group of people against you, so avoid any of these subjects at all costs! This goes hand-in-hand with the above suggestion about humor. Do not tell any potentially offensive jokes or stories! I also would avoid trying to seem young, hip, or casual by swearing in your presentations. I have seen this done and it usually offends at least one person in the room. Remember to be professional and family-friendly at all times.

15) Don’t Go Over the Time You’ve Been Allotted

In fact, end a few minutes early if possible. People value time more than almost anything else. It’s possible to ruin a wonderful presentation by going over by five minutes. It’s not worth it! Learn to value the time of others. Keep your presentation relevant, exciting, educational, and don’t waste time. If you do this, the tips above, and end five minutes early, you will start to have more and more successful presentations. Give it a try and see the results for yourself!

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15 Simple Steps to Deliver Awesome Presentations

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