Amidst the pin-drop silence and thousands of awkward stares, a speaker walks up to the stage with a pale face and shaking legs. He picks up the microphone with his sweaty palms and starts tapping it.
Constant taps on the microphone produce a sharp screech, grabbing the attention of everyone in the audience. He tries to cover it up with a few awkward mechanical laughs, mumbles some unintelligible words, and starts to stutter… And here, my friend goes the important or best presentation down the drain.
While he strings word upon word of flat arguments, he looks around and sees a sea full of zombies, who are trying so hard to stay awake! Soon he realizes that no one in the room is entirely awake, let alone listening to any of the arguments he is trying to convey. So pitiful, isn’t it?
Look, we know presentations aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Especially for introverts, presentations are like their worst nightmare. But remember, presenting or speaking in front of people is a skill and not an innate ability. So, even the most introverted person can shine through their presentations if done correctly!
But again, it’s not an ability that comes to you overnight or one that you’re born with; you need to put in immense effort in order to string words confidently without breaking out in cold sweat and stumbling upon your own carefully planned out words.
Honing the skill of delivering an idea in public is always beneficial, regardless of whatever line of business you’re in. Even the most absurd idea would look good if presented in a captivating way!
Do you know how a psychopath like Hitler managed to attract thousands of followers around the world? Just because of his ability to deliver impactful presentations. Well, we are not implying that you become the next Hitler (God forbid); it’s just that everyone should have the basic ability to create impactful presentations, especially if their work requires them to influence, persuade, and convince people.
Here are ten smart ways to create an impactful presentation:
Frame your story
There’s no way you can deliver a good presentation unless you have something really worth talking about. Look, we all know universal truths like the Earth revolves around the Sun, Trump was the shittiest President, and last season of Game of Thrones was an absolute disappointment; the audience wants to listen to something unique and interesting!
Remember, conceptualizing or framing what you want to convey is the essential part of any presentation. For a successful presentation, you should assume that your audience isn’t interested in your subject, and it’s your job to introduce them to your interest and convince them that they should be interested in it, too. Even if your presentation topic is the most boring one amongst all, engage your audience such that it grabs their attention and keeps them hooked throughout.
Stop juggling your PowerPoint slides
It could be tempting to spend an entire presentation monkeying around with the slides and getting done with it. Well, don’t do it! The slides are there to provide a visual aid to your presentation, not to replace you! The stage is set for you to shine and not for your slides.
Remember, you lose your audience the moment you hit the clicker. They are here to listen to you, your insights, interpretations, and opinions. You can mention key points in your slides or even pictures for infographics, but not more than that! The best PowerPoint presentation skills are using slides to amplify your ideas rather than using them as a teleprompter.
Don’t flood your presentation with too much information
Taking notes from the historic legend Aristotle, the legend says that the audience will walk away only remembering a few ideas from a speech. So, he emphasized using a “Rule of Three.” According to this rule, you need to pick only three points to add to your presentation.
Don’t bother adding the fourth one, we repeat, DON’T, as they won’t remember it anyway! Even the world’s smartest person, Steve Jobs, used the “Rule of Three” in most of his Apple presentations.
Involve your audience
Whether you aim to inspire your audience or to inform them, the aim will most likely be fulfilled if your audience has some participation in your presentation. It goes without saying that people don’t really like to be talked to – instead, they like to be talked with.
So, take questions from your audience, ask for their opinions and experiences, and just try and keep them engaged. Turn the presentation into a discussion rather than a boring lecture.
Establish stage presence
No matter how great you are at public speaking, there’s always a point when your fear creeps into you, drives your gut crazy and leaves you blank in the midst of presentation – staring into the void like an idiot. For newbie speakers, the entire act of being onstage is probably the toughest part of giving a presentation – but little do we know that it’s the most important one!
A successful presentation is as much about having the right content and material as it is about how you establish your onstage personality. And for that, a little bit of practice can do the work! First of all, try not to stick in one place, make yourself comfortable on the stage, use the space and move around – well, not too much, obviously because too much movement also indicates nervousness.
Swaying from side to side or switching bodyweight from one leg to another is what people naturally tend to do when they are nervous. And honestly, that’s pretty distracting. Rely more on your hand gestures than lower body movements.
Perhaps the most crucial aspect of establishing an onstage personality is eye contact. Pick a few friendly-looking people from all sides of the room and look them in their eyes while speaking. Consider them as your lost friends who you’re meeting after a long time.
As far as nervousness is concerned, the feeling is not always a disaster! Truth be told, the audience expects you to be nervous. It’s a natural body response to anything new, which, by the way, helps improve your performance. It provides you with extra energy to speak aloud and perform. Just keep your jitters in control because it’s your time to take the reins.
Go, break a leg or two!