I’ve taught presentation skills for many years and I’ve got presentation tips coming out the you know where. But being an expert has its own set of problems, and one of them is a tendency to get too deep and too detailed. I’m reminded of this every time I coach a speaker and they get major results from suggestions that seem very minor. Then I have to smack myself in the head and remind myself, “Doh! Keep it simple stupid!” Here are some sample presentation skills that to keep showing up and giving value to my clients.
When someone asks me for presentation tips, the first thing I say is, “Rehearse.” You wouldn’t believe the improvement that comes from this simple strategy, nor would you believe how many people don’t bother to do it. They say they don’t rehearse because they want to sound natural, but they just end up sounding unprepared. Rehearsal allows you to time your material, tighten up the language, smooth out the transitions, and get used to how the whole thing sounds and feels. Every run through makes it better so why would you throw away that benefit?
One of the easy presentation skills is finding the proper format for your notes. All too often, people try to speak from pages or slides containing whole sections of dense text. Then they can’t look up because they’ll lose their place. So they start reading, lose their expression, and there’s no connection with their listeners. Use at least 14 point font with lots of white space on the page. One of my clients places 3 to 4 lines at the top of the page, 3 to 4 lines of text at the middle of the page, and 3 to 4 lines at the bottom. The rest is white space. He never has to worry about losing his place and feels much more secure and confident as a result.
When it comes to delivery, one of the simplest presentation skills is to stand on both feet. It sounds pretty basic, doesn’t it? But it’s the first thing I look for whenever I’m coaching a presenter. Standing on one leg makes you look careless. Bouncing makes you look nervous. Rocking and swaying makes you look uncertain. On the positive side, standing with both feet on the ground makes you look taller and stronger. You’ll feel more solid and confident, and there’s a very good chance your voice is stronger, deeper and clearer.
I’ll finish my short list of simple presentation skills with this: Take your time and speak with short phrases. The ability to be deliberate and control the pace of your presentation will solve a multitude of problems. Too many speakers are unconsciously pushing themselves. Then they end up going too fast, running out of breath, making unnecessary mistakes, and feeling even more anxious and nervous. Get rid of that stupid rule about speaking whole sentences on one breath. Give yourself permission to breath several times per sentence. You’ll feel much more in command.
Presentation skills don’t have to be complicated to be effective. Sometimes, simple presentation tips can have a profound effect. If you implement a user friendly format for your notes, rehearsing your speech as often as possible, if you practice the ability to stand on both feet and speak slowly and deliberately, I guarantee you will see noticeable progress in the quality and impact of your presentations.
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