Everyone, from grade school students to seasoned professionals, has suffered through a bad presentation.
Most of us have probably given one. Whether or not public speaking is your strong point, it’s never too late to improve.
Start strong and finish strong.
Clearly express the intent of your presentation at the very beginning, and try to get right down to it. Plan how much time you’ll spend on each part, so you don’t end up rushing because you’re running out of time. How you end your presentation is up to you, but you want to leave your audience with something to take away.
Engage your audience.
Make eye contact, smile, and speak clearly. Keep pauses and filler words to a minimum, so the audience doesn’t lose focus. Don’t speed up, though, which can be tempting when you’re nervous and just want the whole thing to be over. The less comfortable you are with public speaking, the more time you should spend rehearsing.
Stay on track.
Don’t overwhelm the audience with backstories, analogies, or other stylistic flourishes, especially in a short presentation. If something requires an explanation, keep it short and memorable. Make sure the audience can easily see the connection between your ideas.
Use materials effectively.
Slides and videos can be useful tools, but they should never be the sole focus of a presentation. A good slideshow is simple, visually appealing, and easy to read from anywhere in the room. Avoid long blocks of text, small font or gratuitous details. And of course, never rely on a slideshow to do your work for you. Slides are for the audience, not for the presenter.
You don’t have to be a great public speaker to give a great presentation. All you need are the skills you already have: confidence, vision, and sensitivity to the needs of your audience.