Whether you're conducting a training session or giving a presentation at a conference, stepping in front of an audience can be incredibly nerve-wracking. With a sea of faces staring at you, it is all too easy to feel like nobody is listening and your speech is falling flat, even if that is not the case.
We all want to make an impact with our presentations. However, doing so can be difficult. You certainly don't want to end up staring into your notes and stammering your way through an embarrassing performance! You need to impress your audience, which is easier said than done.
However, there are a few useful tactics you can make use of to ensure you give a presentation that will have an impact on those listening to it. To make sure your next training session or conference is a success, here are a few things you can do:
If the point you are trying to make is a long and rambling one, you are going to lose your audience quickly. You need to be able to sum everything up in a few simple, concise sentences. This makes it easier for your audience to digest.
A long, rambling point will quickly cause people to lose interest. Keep everything punchy with a few tricks. For example, there is the 'ten, 20, 30' rule: your presentation should consist of a maximum of ten slides, should take no longer than 20 minutes and should use nothing smaller than 30-point font.
These restrictions force you to think up creative ways to summarize your points in ways that your audience will be able to easily take in. Similarly, some people use a '20-30' rule, where they can have 20 slides but are only allowed to use 30 seconds on each, which prevents you from relying on the text on-screen and makes you fill in the gaps with useful information.
Know your audience
One tactic that often gets neglected is to work the room. Essentially, this means you should go around the room beforehand and get to know people a bit better. This works especially well at conferences, where you might be spending a full day with other attendees before it is time for your presentation.
This time can be used learning more about people's sense of humour and interests. This makes it easier to engage them when the time comes to give your presentation, as you will have a much better idea of what will make your audience laugh and what will keep them interested in what you are saying.
Know how to speak!
If your presentation is punctuated with 'ums' and 'ahs', you will seem like a complete amateur and quickly lose your audience. Practising is essential, but you should also learn one or two public speaking tricks.
For example, you should try to avoid saying filler words like um and ah by getting into the habit of taking a breath in or out instead. This will make your presentation flow much better, which will give your words a much greater impact.