If you asked people what their number one fear is, getting in front of a crowd for a presentation is sure to pop up more than a few times. So, we’re here to provide you with some tips on how to develop self confidence and improve public speaking.
Just like a presentation, let’s not waste time and jump straight in.
Creating A Strong Presentation
One of the best ways to make yourself feel more confident when presenting, is by being confident in the presentation itself. From the visuals to what you’re going to say, practice makes perfect, and you should never go into a presentation without thoroughly preparing.
Do you know what’s boring? Single colour slides with a wall of text. If your presentation looks like this, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Use photos whenever possible, make sure the text you do use is actually readable (don’t use red letters on an orange background), and don’t be afraid to find templates online!
Just to hammer the point home: your slides should NOT contain every single word you’re speaking. If that was the case, why even speak? They should be summing up or providing additional information. They can even be a good way to cue yourself to avoid the dreaded cue card.
There are two easy things to include in your presentation that are proven to work: The 3-point structure and storytelling.
Here’s the thing, if you’re a professional speaker, it probably isn’t necessary for you to stick with the 3-point structure. However, for those of us that aren’t, there’s a reason you see it used a lot: it works.
Creating a catchy opening that preps the audience for the three main points you’re going to cover has several benefits. Firstly, three is a nice round number. Your presentation won’t be too long or too short. Second, people like to know how long something is. If they know you’re on your last point, it’s much easier for them to stay focused on your presentation, and you won’t end up with a sea of lit up faces staring down into their phones.
As for storytelling, people connect with personal anecdotes. If you can pull a story from your life that connects with what you’re presenting, it’s a fantastic way to hook the audience early.
Improving Your Public Speaking
Now that you have a strong presentation prepared, how can you become a better speaker?
We already mentioned that you should not be doing your presentation for the first time in front of your audience. However, that’s now what we’re talking about here.
Do you know why the best presenters are the best presenters? Because they’ve done it hundreds of times before. The fact is, the way you get better and feel less nervous about presenting, is by biting the bullet and just doing it.
Your first presentation might be a little nerve wracking, but your tenth won’t be.
When people are nervous, they have a tendency to speak faster. Couple that with wanting to get off stage as quickly as possible, and many presenters end up flying through a 20-minute presentation in less than 5.
Breath, slow down, and don’t be afraid to pause when you need a point to really sink in. Instead of saying “um” or “uh”, just pause!
From big to small, what you’re doing with your body makes an impact on you and your audience.
Fidgeting, bouncing your weight from one foot to the other, or holding on the podium for dear life, all indicate nervousness to your audience and won’t make you feel any more confident.
Get loose and don’t be afraid to use the space. Walk around a little! Just try not to put your back to anybody.
We hope these tips will help you, and before you know it, you’ll be a lean, mean, presenting machine.