Effective Presentation Skills

In these recessionary times, you might well need to be a highly effective presenter just to remain in your current job – or find new employment. To achieve this, it’s first necessary to identify what creates an effective presentation and what skills are needed.

It is also important to understand that effective presentation skills are not solely for the fortunate few who are naturally good communicators but that effective presentation skills can be developed in anyone and that we all have the ability to learn how to become highly effective presenters.

In this article we’ll be looking at some techniques to help you achieve more from your presentations.

Key Objectives of Effective Presentation Skills

The key objectives that underline a good presentation often include the following:

  • To establish credibility with your audience
  • To communicate information clearly to your audience
  • To persuade and/or influence your audience

To achieve these objectives, there are a range of practical skills that you can develop to help you become an effective presenter.

We can categorise these skills into three main areas:

  • The ability to create a clear message
  • The ability to deliver your message effectively
  • The ability to fully engage with your audience.

An effective presentation should cover all of these three areas, so let’s see how you can achieve this.

Presentation Skill #1 – Create a clear effective message

A clear message is normally a simple one. You may feel that you have to go into a lot of detail to get your message across but more often than not – “less is more”. Your audience are only able to take in so much during a presentation, so the clearer the message the more powerful it will be. Keep your message clear and simple by using the following guidelines:

  • Have one Key Message only – this should be the most important point that you want to get across to your audience. Restrict it to one sentence that is easier to remember.
  • Restrict your content to three main points only – three is the magic number that people tend to remember things in – so if you restrict your presentation to three sections only, your audience will be more likely to remember it.
  • Have a strong opening and ending – these are the moments when your audiences’ attention is at its highest so take the opportunity to state and re-state your key message at these times.

Presentation Skill #2 – Deliver your message effectively

So you now have a clear message and structure to your presentation and the next stage is to consider how you are getting it across effectively to your audience. The ability to express your ideas is as important as the ideas themselves and this is a fundamental requirement of effective presentation delivery.

Although not everyone is naturally expressive, we all have the ability to develop our personal resources to help us enhance those expressive qualities required to help us become more effective presenters.

The way you speak and look has a huge impact on what you say and how you come across to your audience and there are some simple techniques you can adopt to help enhance your overall image. Try to incorporate the following when you next give a presentation:

  • Speak at a slower pace – we tend to speed up when we are nervous so by consciously slowing down you will end up speaking at the right pace and controlling your nervous tension.
  • Imagine you are telling a story – by doing this, you will automatically increase the expression in your voice and sound more interesting to your audience.
  • Make eye contact with your audience – it may feel awkward at first but if you actually look directly at people you will feel as though you are having a conversation with them and this will feel less intimidating

Presentation Skill #3 – Fully engage with your audience

To deliver an effective presentation, it’s also important that you fully engage with your audience so that you can see things from their point of view and “speak in their language”. It’s therefore important that you have a full understanding of your audience. To help achieve this gather as much information as possible about your audience before you present. There are three main areas where you can gather information about your audience as follows:

  • Audience Make-Up – this is who will actually attend. Ask yourself, from what departments/oganisations they will come from, what level of seniority they will be, what level of expertise will they have about my subject etc
  • Audience Motivation – this is the attitudes of the audience and how they may react to you. Ask yourself what is their interest in my topic, their attitude towards me, any misconceptions or preconceived ideas they may have etc
  • Audience Environment – these are the external factors that may influence you and your audience. Ask yourself how many will be in the audience, what will be the length of my presentation, what sort of room/venue will I present in etc

By considering these factors you will be able to plan your presentation to accommodate the attitudes and needs of your audience. This will make it easier for you to ‘buy in’ their trust in you and make it easier for you to engage with them.

Presentation Skills – The holistic approach

We have now looked at three areas where you can develop your effective presentation skills to enable you to be the effective presenter that you would like to be.

By addressing all three areas you will equip yourself with the confidence needed to communicate effectively with any audience and in any presentation situation.

Invest in your own presentation skills

There are no hidden secrets to being more effective and successful when you present. You can develop these skills through training and practice. By enhancing the ways in which you present and communicate you’ll be able to develop a much stronger influence on your audience and thus encourage them to respond to you in the way you want!

To get some expert advice and coaching and enhance your presenting, click on one of the links below:-

Presentation Skills Coaching – 121 coaching
Business Presentation Courses – Open to members of the public
Business Presenting – In-house training for companies and organisations

Skillstudio also offer public courses, 1-2-1 coaching and in-house training in many aspects of presentation skills and communication skills, including public speaking, vocal skills and body language awareness.

We hope you found this presentation skills article useful

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