We all want to be good speakers. We all want to feel comfortable, look credible, and mostly, have people heed our advice when we speak. After all, the reason we make presentations is to change behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs.
There is no magic to improving your presentations, just time and effort. All speakers, regardless of their abilities or level of nervousness, can improve if they follow these 4 steps.
Make Time To Prepare – There is simply no way around this: it takes time to create a strong presentation. It is easy to procrastinate thinking that since you know your subject and will just be talking; you do not need to prepare. To have a strong presentation, you must allow adequate time to think, create visual aids, and practice.
Organize Your Presentation – A good presentation has a beginning, middle, and an end. It is clear to the audience where you are going and what you hope they will do when you done. Taking time to plan your talk insures you will cover all the needed material while avoiding confusing (and irrelevant) side stories.
Create Compelling Visuals – While it is easy to create text heavy slides and bulleted lists, all they compel the audience to do is space out. Design your visuals so they show the audience in images the ideas they are hearing with your words.
Involve Your Audience – Audiences want to be active participants in a conversation, not passive receivers of information. Engaging and involving the audience makes it easier for them to pay attention and retain information. Asking questions, eliciting comments, and dividing the audience into small discussion groups are ways to engage the audience.
The net result of doing the four items listed is that you will feel more confident as a speaker and audiences equate confidence with credibility. The more confidence you exude as a speaker, the more relaxed the audience will be, and the more they can listen to your words. Confidence alone is not enough to carry your talk – you still need to be organized, deliver your talk well, and have good subject matter expertise.
Your talk will be more compelling, you will feel more comfortable, look more credible, and your audience is more likely to take the action you are suggesting. It is not magic, it is not rocket science – it is just 4 things you can do to improve your talks.
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