For most people, giving a killer presentation doesn’t come naturally, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wow a room full of peers. Public speaking is one of the most commonly lauded, fear inducing stresses modern man has come to know. That aside, giving a great presentation doesn’t have to be a terribly complex process (pretty much summed up in tip #1).
While plenty of people have written about the subject and how to overcome the fears, anxieties and nervousness often associated with presentations or public speeches, I have come up with a version of some life experience-based tips to give a killer presentation, without the negatives.
15 Tips for Delivering a Killer Presentation
1. 10-20-30 Rule – This is a slideshow rule offered by Guy Kawasaki. This rule states that a PowerPoint slide should have no more than 10 slides, last no longer than 20 minutes and have no text less than 30 point font. He says it doesn’t matter whether your idea will revolutionize the world, you need to spell out the important nuggets in a few minutes, a couple slides and a several words a slide.
2. Slow Down – You ever had a friend that drinks too much coffee and spastically whirls about, jumping from one unattached idea to the next, so much so that you want to chain him to a chair and glue his teeth together? Yeah, neither have I… Nervous and inexperienced speakers tend to talk way to fast. Consciously slow your speech down and add pauses for emphasis. The room will appreciate you.
3. 15 Word Summary – Can you summarize your idea in fifteen words? If not, rewrite it and try again. Speaking is an inefficient medium for communicating information, so know what the important fifteen words are so they can be repeated. This isn’t to say you can’t expand here and there based on the audience’s reaction to a topic, but mind the fact that brevity relates to comprehension.
4. Speeches are About Stories – If your presentation is going to be a longer one, explain your points through short stories, quips and anecdotes. Great speakers know how to use a story to create an emotional connection between ideas for the audience. Every speaker has dots – great presenters help you connect them.
5. Project Your Voice – Nothing is worse than a speaker you can’t hear. Even in the high-tech world of microphones and amplifiers, you need to be heard. Projecting your voice doesn’t mean yelling, rather standing up straight and letting your voice resonate on the air in your lungs rather than in the throat to produce a clearer sound.
6. Breathe In Not Out – Feeling the urge to use presentation killers like ‘um,’ ‘ah,’ or ‘you know’? Replace those with a pause taking a short breath in. The pause may seem a bit awkward, but the audience will barely notice it, and you won’t sound like a babbling baffoon.
7. Come Early, Really Early – Don’t fumble with Powerpoint or hooking up a projector when people are waiting for you to speak. Come early, scope out the room, run through your slideshow and make sure there won’t be any glitches. Preparation can do a lot to remove your speaking anxiety. But…
8… Don’t over prepare – If you rehearse your presentation too much it will sound like it (in a bad way). Granted, you need to be prepared enough to know what you are going to talk about but make sure your presentation flows naturally instead of sounding memorized. Usually if you ask experienced speakers what you shouldn’t do, they’ll tell you not to rehearse your presentation too much because then it won’t sound natural.
9. Don’t abuse your visuals – Usually your visuals are posters, charts, or even a PowerPoint presentation. Whatever your visuals may be, keep them simple and don’t put too many words on them. The audience isn’t there to read your slides, they are there to listen to you present.
10. Show your personality – It doesn’t matter if you are presenting to a corporate crowd or to senior citizens, you need to show some character when presenting. If you don’t do this you’ll probably sound like Agent Smith from the Matrix. Nobody wants to hear him present. (If you do, you are probably an agent yourself and we will find you)
11. Make them laugh – Although you want to educate your audience, you need to make them laugh as well. I learned this from Guy Kawasaki and if you ever hear any of his speeches you’ll understand why. In essence, it keeps the audience alert and they’ll learn more from you than
12. Talk to your audience, not at them – People hate it when they get talked at, so don’t do it. To illustrate, imagine an acquaintance of yours (we all have one) who continually and completely dominates a conversation so it becomes a monologue, not a dialogue. You need to interact with your audience and create a conversation. An easy way to do this is to ask them questions as well as letting them ask you questions.
13. Be honest – A lot of people present to the audience what they want to hear, instead of what they need to hear. Make sure you tell the truth even if they don’t want to hear it because at the end of the day, your audience will respect you. And while being liked i nice, I’d much rather be respected.
14. Show some movement – You probably know that you need to show some movement when speaking, but naturally you may forget to do so. Make sure you show some gestures or pace around a bit (not too much) on the stage when speaking. Remember, no one likes watching a stiff. People are more engaged with an animated speaker.
15. Differentiate yourself – If you don’t do something unique compared to all the other presenters the audience has heard, they won’t remember you. Think about your favorite teacher or an inspirational boss and channel that energy. It’s contagious. You are branding yourself when you speak, so make sure you do something unique and memorable. Remember: passion inspires. Beauty inspires. Give them something beautiful and meaningful and you will stand worlds apart.
Do you have any killer presentation secrets? Please share in the comments section 🙂