Presentations are among the most critical activities that business professionals engage in. It’s no wonder that when you Google “effective presentations,” you get over 10 million hits – with titles like “How to Give Effective Presentations: 21 Tips” and “How to Give a Killer Presentation.” But I don’t think you should try to use somebody else’s tips and tricks before you have mastered presenting, and I don’t think an article on the web can teach to give a killer presentation, simply because effective presentations require skills, not principles.
The Communispond Executive Presentation Skills® program can teach you to give effective presentations by helping you organize a presentation, giving you a safe place to deliver it, and then reviewing your performance with you and other members of your class. We do this, both in-person and online, with the magic of video. Because this method focuses on you, it builds your strengths and positions you to overcome your weaknesses. In the presenting phase of the program, you learn five principal skills.
1. Engaging Language. Choose the most original words and phrases you can that will enhance the context of the occasion and appeal to the emotions of the audience.
2. Eye Contact. Maintain eye contact with the audience with eye-brain control. Lock eyes with an individual in the audience, deliver a thought to that person, move your gaze to another individual in another section of the audience, lock eyes, and deliver the next thought. Skip around to different locations in the audience to find your targets. If you try to cover the audience sequentially, row by row, the artificialness of it will distract them.
3. Body Language. Every human culture associates good posture with beauty. When you’re erect and balanced, you look like you’re ready for anything. Good posture projects energy; poor posture projects apathy or uncertainty. Good body language for presenting is based on
Good body language provides emphasis and animation without fidgeting or distracting the audience.
4. Expressive Speech. Passion is conveyed in the voice by volume, pitch, rate, and inflection. Speak to an audience member in the back row to get the proper volume, vary your pitch, and use rate and inflection to supply emphasis and intent.
5. Interacting with Visuals. When a new visual comes up in your presentation, tell the audience what it is, then explain what it means, then discuss it further if necessary. But talk to the audience. Don’t read from your slides. Look at the slide to remind yourself what it is, think about it for a moment, then turn to the audience, make eye contact with someone, hold it, and tell them what you’re showing them. Do this for each point on the slide.
Notice that I didn’t call these the Top Five Tips for Presenting, even though that label might have captured your attention more effectively. These are not tips, they are skills. I can describe them here, and we can discuss them in the comments, but your best hope for mastering them is skills-based training, which is why we approach presentation training as a matter of skill building rather than memorizing tips or following rules.