Everybody in a workplace setting has had to give a presentation (or several) in their professional life. Presentations are a key aspect of corporate life—they are used to share information with shareholders, employees, colleagues, board members, in webinars, among many other areas.
If you don’t enjoy giving presentations, this particular duty will give you a great deal of anxiety. How do you portray a confident version of yourself while presenting when you are feeling anything but confident? Here are some tips.
The first step in feeling some degree of confidence with your presentation is by using presentation templates to make your deck. Using a template alleviates a lot of the stress of creating a presentation from scratch. The less stress you feel in the presentation making process, the better you will feel about giving the actual presentation.
Additionally, because of the customizable nature of templates, you will be able to adapt the presentation to your needs with minimal effort. This will allow you to put your own personality into the presentation, which will add to your comfort levels.
Your presentation deck needs to have the right balance of information. You don’t want to fill your slides with too much information as that will overwhelm your audience. Plus, if the audience are meant to read everything in your deck, what will you be presenting?
Instead, keep the text in your slides to a minimum—include only the most salient points. You can give context to sales goals and other data presented in the slides when you speak.
For example, if your presentation is about a content marketing conference, give the audience an overview of the guest speakers, topics being covered, dates and times. Don’t include the conference blurbs and speaker bios here. This is a presentation, not a brochure.
By keeping your text to a minimum, you will ensure that your audience remains engaged, which will help boost your confidence.
One way to keep your text minimalist in your presentation is to use facts, figures, and statistics. Charts are a great way to show a wealth of information in an easy-to-absorb manner, and you can take inspiration from a rent report like this.
And in the modern setting where audiences usually take pictures of the screen, a chart will be much easier for them to refer to after the presentation is completed.
The most important aspect of giving a presentation is understanding your audience. Once you have the basics of your visual presentation, you have to start working on what you will say, and how to say it.
Keep in mind that storytelling is a great way to reach audiences, so incorporate that into your presentation. Nobody wants a presenter who takes themselves too seriously.
Is this an audience who is familiar with you? Open with a shared anecdote or make a personal connection by mentioning something about the people in the audience.
If you don’t know the audience, start with an ice-breaker, like a joke or an observation about the setting (“Lunch was delicious, but I’m afraid I have to interrupt it.”).
This will put your audience—and you—at ease.
Most people know that it’s best to write things down—writing helps memory recall. And this is particularly true for presentations. It is highly unlikely that you will be able to memorize everything you need to say in your presentation.
You don’t want to forget half the logo design trends you are talking about partway through your speech, so write it all down before you get up on the stage. But remember not to be too wordy—your audience will lose interest if you talk too long.
It isn’t necessary to write down the entire speech—unless you plan to read the whole thing off a piece of paper. This process works well for a dry fact-based presentation, but not if you’re talking about a dynamic topic like content marketing. And though it will take the pressure off you to be spontaneous, this method will not keep the audience engaged.
Instead, try to write down an outline of what you want to say—such as the headings and main sub-headings. This will allow you some amount of leeway in what you say, while also providing you with talking points so you stay on-topic.
This is an adage we have heard numerous times but it never gets old. Ensure that you create your presentation well in advance so you have time to practice it.
Read your notes out loud—words sound different when you speak them versus when you think them. Speaking out loud will also help you time your presentation—you will have noticed that you read faster than you speak, so reading the presentation notes in your head will skew your timing.
But it isn’t just speaking that you need to practice. Try looking in a mirror and studying your expressions. Whether you are talking about logo and business card design or world poverty, you want to look amiable to your audience—practice smiling and making eye contact.
If you can ask a friend or colleague who has time to let you run through the presentation, their feedback would be invaluable in helping your confidence.
But remember to ask someone who isn’t overly negative—you are already being negative about your presentation skills; you do not need that reiterated by an external party.
Presentations are stressful but they can also be rewarding. The important thing to remember is that you have a message to share with your audience. You are the messenger—you are there to entertain and educate them.
Try not to be too hard on yourself when you are giving your presentation—every syllable you utter isn’t going to be perfect. You will slip up from time to time—it’s normal; it’s human. Give yourself a break.
The harder you are on yourself, the harder it will be for you to feel confident in your presentation. Alternatively, if you imagine a successful presentation, you will be able to present a confident front.