Ask most seasoned presenters how many years it took before they could consistently captivate their audience and they’re likely to tell you many. But what if we told you there were specific tips you could follow to help you become an awesome speaker sooner rather than later?
Here are nine epic presentation tips for newbie presenters.
1. Instantly Earn Their Attention
Don’t you hate it when a speaker comes out and the first thing they do is ask the audience to turn off their mobile devices? It kind of makes your audience feel like they’re back at school, and many people ignore the request anyway. Don’t be one of these presenters. Instead, earn the attention of your audience members.
For instance, you could tell a joke (“So three TED presenters walk into a bar”), you could make a personal confession (“I had an extra shot of espresso in my Macchiato this morning so you guys should be able to hear me in the back”) or tell a really cool and unusual fact. (See number 7 below).
Make earning your audience’s attention your number one goal. Be so interesting and engaging that people can’t help but pay attention.
2. Always Give a Valuable Takeaway
No matter how inspiring your message might be, every audience member wants an actionable lesson they can take home with them and apply in their own lives immediately. To do this, always include a call-to-action at the end of your speech. It could be something like, “tonight, think of an event in your life that you saw as a negative and see if you can find a positive in it.”
3. Don’t Deflect Questions Until the End
Presenters typically open up the floor to questions at the end of their speech. But what happens if someone raises their hand during the middle of your presentation? First of all, don’t see this as a negative thing – as an interruption to your memorised speech. See it as a positive… people are actually listening to you!
See it as an opportunity to address the question and be seen as an expert. If it’s something you were eventually going to get to in a later slide, that’s fine, skip ahead. The best presentations are the ones that feel more like conversations than lectures, so always seek to fully engage your audience.
4. Move Your Body Beforehand
Anytime you’re anxious or stressed, like before a presentation, your adrenal glands secrete high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol shuts down our brain and limits our creativity and ability to process information. This isn’t the best news when you consider you’ve got to stand up in front of a group of people, read them accurately, and share information in an engaging way.
The best way to burn off cortisol? Exercise. So, consider hitting the gym before your presentation so you can have energy and a clear mind.
5. Prepare for the Worst
Most presenters spend time in the days and hours leading up to their speech thinking about all of the things that could possibly go wrong. “What if my PowerPoint slides fail?”, “What if my opening joke falls flat?”, “What if someone keeps interrupting me?”. While good presenters worry something will go wrong, great presenters prepare for them to.
Pick a couple of things that worry you the most and come up with contingency plans. This will not only help you in the event one of these scenarios does occur, but being prepared will make you feel more confident walking onto that stage.
6. Share a Personal Story
While it’s important to be seen as an expert, it’s equally important to be seen as a human being. Share a personal story that highlights your overall message. Maybe it’s about how you overcame a challenge as a kid. Maybe it’s about one of your biggest parenting regrets. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to share genuine emotions, as that’s what your audience will immediately hook onto.
7. Share a Cool Fact Nobody Knows
Did you know that a human baby has over 60 more bones than an adult?
If you want to hook your audience members at the beginning of your presentation, share a really cool fact that NOBODY has ever heard before. Find a surprising or interesting fact that somehow relates to your topic. People love learning new quirky information that they can share and makes them look smart.
8. Don’t Overload Your Slides
PowerPoint slides that are jam-packed with tiny font are a turn-off because no one can possibly read the information. A simple rule of thumb to follow is to make your font size double the average age of your audience. Typically speaking, most fonts will be between 60 and 80 points.
9. Don’t Read Your Slides
And speaking of slides, you shouldn’t use yours as a crutch. They should really only contain supplemental data your audience can scan. Never read straight from them or you’ll lose the listeners’ attention.
Just because you’re new to presenting doesn’t mean you have to come across as a total newbie. By following these nine tips, you’ll be a remarkable presenter that can easily get an audience to eat out of your hands.