It’s often noted that public speaking is one of the most common fears faced by both men and women, but we live in a world where the way we speak and present to clients and colleagues can build or break a brand. As a speaker and personal branding specialist, I strongly believe that in order to get noticed, be visible and progress in your corporate career, it is critical to work at becoming great at presenting and in delivering a clear and engaging message. Though fine-tuning your skill set takes time, there are steps we can all take that will offer immediate improvement. Here are my 10 tips for doing just that.
You need to prepare.
This sounds obvious, but the truth is that most people wing it. Proper preparation involves fact checking and practicing your delivery. It should also include checking in with a few of your audience members in advance to see if the content you are planning on giving is what they want or need to hear.
Have a compelling start.
Lead into your presentation with something memorable and valuable. The best way to avoid the boring “can you hear me at the back” is to do a proper sound check beforehand. Starting with an apology is also a huge no-no.
Consider carefully what your key points are and make sure that you don’t have too many. Then, omit all information that does not support these key points. Rambling and oversharing/over-explaining just dilutes the message.
Connect with your audience.
There is a time for facts and figures, but it is important to speak to your audience in a way they can relate to. Use real-life experiences, stories and metaphors to support your key points in a visual way.
Make it personal.
Expanding on the point above, it’s important to integrate with your audience where appropriate. Try and involve or mention audience members, do your research on the delegates and/or their company and show that you understand their position and needs.
What’s the Point?
Make each point relevant to the audience. Think about what they need to hear, why they need to hear it and how best to deliver the message. One of the best questions a speaker can ask themselves is, “why am I sharing this and will they care?”
Be on time.
Never go over the time you have been allotted. The temptation to add “‘just one more thing” can be strong, but it rarely works to anyone’s benefit.
Avoid complex slides.
You may feel you’re offering invaluable information, but these often work against you as they can distract and irritate your audience. Ask yourself “does this slide add anything to the impact of my message?” – if not leave it out.
In your summary, avoid repeating everything you’ve presented.
Make it short, sharp and final. Don’t let it drag on. You should leave them in no doubt about your key message.
Keep your Q and A concise.
Allow yourself a certain number of questions and let them know when you are only taking “one more question”. Never end your presentation on answering a question – be in control and finish with something you have prepared.