Many of us are called upon to present in the modern workplace, whether it’s a formal presentation to hundreds, a business briefing to your department or simply at a small meeting around a table. Presenting and presentations can take many forms.
Being a good presenter in front of your staff builds your status and garners respect from the team. In fact, being able to talk to groups of people of any size comfortably and with control is a key leadership skill – it encourages people to listen and value what you say long after the speech is over.
Not only that, presenting with confidence and handling the heat of the public glare suggests that you are able to cope with other pressures equally as effectively. Speaking in front of an audience is exposing, you’re up there being watched.
Doing it well is a genuine opportunity to demonstrate not only how skilful you are, but also to embody qualities which your staff will be looking for in their leadership team.
You can learn a great deal by working with a trainer, but here are a few presentation skills tips to make sure that you make the right impact and leave a positive lasting impression.
1. Own the space
When a superstar enters, they own the room. If you arrive early get into the presentation room before your audience. Walk from front to back, walk round the edges. Have a look at the stage from the audience point of view. Make it yours. If you’re late and the crowd are waiting, do the same thing but with your eyes. Scan the presentation room; take in the details before you begin. Even if you feel nervous, you’ll start to make the space your own.
Simple as that really. When you are anxious, your breathing becomes shallower; this affects your voice and drains the confidence from your presenting. Place your hand on your tummy button and breathe down deep. If it’s mid presentation, take a drink, give the audience a question to discuss, and send your breath down low. Steady your ship.
3. Spread your feet
Another rapid fire remedy. The panic is rising, your voice is shaking and your hands are trembling. Stand still and relax your feet. Let go a little. Your feet are your foundation, let them take the weight. Trust us; it’ll make you feel better in a moment of panic.
4. Easy does it
No one likes being glared at. So win you audience by making soft, gentle eye contact with them all. Think ‘scan the room’, not ‘stare them down’. You’ll make new friends that way.
5. Work the channels
Presenting is a two way communication. You don’t need to feel alone up there. Ask the audience a question to kick off, make it conversational, allow them to contribute and be happy not to know every answer.
By using a few of these tips your presentations will rest on a surer footing, and you will be well on the way to developing excellent presentation skills.
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