This is a guest post by Serena Grant.
When presenting any kind of information to an audience, it’s always important to be as concise as possible, while putting a lot of thought into the preparation of how to best shape your content for an audience. At the same time, it’s worth considering how to use plain speech, repetition, body language, and other approaches to best engage an audience, and to make sure that your message is put across clearly, and in a way that can encourage later discussion.
Knowing your information inside and out is one thing, but knowing how to shape that information for an audience is another. You need to think about what will be important to that audience, and how to best make your presentation interesting for them.
2. Keep things concise
20 minutes or so of talking is often enough to present information. Don’t let your presentation get bogged down in too many graphs and tables – focus on key case studies, and try to cut out anything that might be too distracting.
3. Avoid too many visual aids
Again, over reliance on PowerPoint can result in an audience losing interest is faced with table after table on the screen. Having a few choice images can, however, keep your presentation more varied, but don’t be tempted to bombard an audience with too much.
4. Speak plainly
Trying to make your presentation too technical will mean that most audiences will have a hard time staying focused for the whole time you’re talking. Provide the context, and offer the opportunity to share your more technical information later.
5. Repeat key points
It’s crucial to have a clear introduction and conclusion to any presentation. Moreover, repeat key points to make it clear what your argument is, even if it seems like you’re going over them too much – in most presentations, an audience will only take away one or two, so make sure they get through.
6. Make eye contact
It’s important to make eye contact during the course of a presentation, even at that means focusing on a few people around a room when talking.
7. Use body language well
If you’re standing behind a podium and reading off a script, you can end up making it easy for an audience to lose interest. Stand in front of the audience, and vary your body language to maintain their attention.
8. Have some handouts
If you don’t have time to cover every piece of information that you want to, have a few handouts that you can offer to people after the presentation. These handouts can include any data or case studies that expand on your points.
9. Prepare for questions
You never know exactly what people will ask, but if you know your topic, you’ll want to have a good discussion about your presentation, and shouldn’t feel under pressure to have all the answers.
10. Ask for feedback
Getting constructive feedback on your presentation skills, or even your topic, can be important, especially if there are areas that you’re unsure about.