Public speaking is the part of presentations that most people dread. Although it might not be possible to get over your nerves completely, good preparation and practice will give you confidence. Most confident speakers do lots of preparation and use notes well.
- Know Your Audience:
Giving an effective presentation means working with both the audience and the topic. It’s important to know how to relate to who you are communicating with in order to get through to them. A business conference usually calls for professional language. However, a laid back style is more appropriate in some situations. Think about the audience’s point of view. Appealing to emotions is a great way to convince and inspire action in others. You can make the topic more personal by telling a touching story about another person or situation.
- Stay Organized and Focused:
Being organized is another important part of effective presentations. Using note cards with clearly written points is a good way to remember what you want to say and in what order. However, it is important to practice using them beforehand, and also ensuring that they’re in order to avoid shuffling around in front of your audience. The note cards should include main ideas and prompts rather than the entire speech written out. Simply reading word-for-word makes it very difficult to look up at the audience, and eye contact is a big part of relating to the audience. Also, it is beneficial to be familiar with any equipment or projector rental that will be used during the presentation ahead of time.
- Stick to a Logical Structure:
People are more likely to be persuaded when topics are covered in an order that makes sense. Jumping around too much causes confusion, and it makes the audience more likely to tune out. Being able to stay on track with a beginning, middle, and end that include clear points makes the speaker sound more credible. You can make use of the five-paragraph essay structure that is taught in virtually every high school: Start with an introduction, then divide the presentation into main points with supporting arguments, and end with a conclusion.
- Back Up Your Argument:
To convince an audience of something, or to get them to listen to your point of view, it’s essential to back up your argument. People can tell right away when they are hearing a lot of fluff without much substance. One effective way to be believable is to use statistics and mention where they came from. Audiences usually respond to numbers and other solid information in speeches when it comes from a reputable source. The most credible sources are usually considered to be government agencies, universities, and other well-established organizations that are relevant to the subject matter.
- Utilize Visual Aids:
Visual aids can add another dimension to a speech, and they can be used for any topic. Pictures, PowerPoint presentations, and other types of props are a good way to hold the audience’s interest. They can help drive home an important point and make the subject matter more concrete. Make sure that the visual aids chosen are relevant to the subject of the presentation.
- Practice your presentation and practice again:
After you’ve written your script, practice and learn it—not so that you learn to say it by rote, but so that it will become easier to remember what the important points are, the links between the points (to maintain the flow of your ‘story’), and the words and phrases that express your points clearly. Also, try to avoid reading directly from your slides or script. If you are speaking instead of just reading, you can better engage with your audience and capture their attention.
It is important to leave yourself adequate time to practice your presentation with your notes and slides. Check your timing, remembering that you might speak a little faster if you are nervous, and that you will need to account for changing slides and pointing at visual material. As you rehearse, you will probably notice some words that are awkward to say, particularly if English is not your first language. You can check pronunciation with a reliable source, an online dictionary, or a native speaker, and then practice to avoid stammering during the presentation.
Practicing can help you feel more comfortable with your material and more confident to present it to others.
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