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What Are Effective Presentation Skills (and How to Improve Them)
Presentation skills are essential for your personal and professional life. Learn about effective presentations and how to boost your presenting techniques.
At least seven out of 10 Americans agree that presentation skills are essential for a successful career [ 1 ]. Although it might be tempting to think that these are skills reserved for people interested in public speaking roles, they're critical in a diverse range of jobs. For example, you might need to brief your supervisor on research results.
Presentation skills are also essential in other scenarios, including working with a team and explaining your thought process, walking clients through project ideas and timelines, and highlighting your strengths and achievements to your manager during performance reviews.
Whatever the scenario, you have very little time to capture your audience’s attention and get your point across when presenting information—about three seconds, according to research [ 2 ]. Effective presentation skills help you get your point across and connect with the people you’re communicating with, which is why nearly every employer requires them.
Understanding what presentation skills are is only half the battle. Honing your presenting techniques is essential for mastering presentations of all kinds and in all settings.
What are presentation skills?
Presentation skills are the abilities and qualities necessary for creating and delivering a compelling presentation that effectively communicates information and ideas. They encompass what you say, how you structure it, and the materials you include to support what you say, such as slides, videos, or images.
You'll make presentations at various times in your life. Examples include:
Making speeches at a wedding, conference, or another event
Making a toast at a dinner or event
Explaining projects to a team
Delivering results and findings to management teams
Teaching people specific methods or information
Proposing a vote at community group meetings
Pitching a new idea or business to potential partners or investors
Why are presentation skills important?
Delivering effective presentations is critical in your professional and personal life. You’ll need to hone your presentation skills in various areas, such as when giving a speech, convincing your partner to make a substantial purchase, and talking to friends and family about an important situation.
No matter if you’re using them in a personal or professional setting, these are the skills that make it easier and more effective to convey your ideas, convince or persuade others, and experience success. A few of the benefits that often accompany improving your presentation skills include:
Enriched written and verbal communication skills
Enhanced confidence and self-image
Boosted critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities
Better motivational techniques
Increased leadership skills
Expanded time management, negotiation, and creativity
The better your presenting techniques, the more engaging your presentations will be. You could also have greater opportunities to make positive impacts in business and other areas of your life.
Effective presentation skills
Imagine yourself in the audience at a TED Talk or sitting with your coworkers at a big meeting held by your employer. What would you be looking for in how they deliver their message? What would make you feel engaged?
These are a few questions to ask yourself as you review this list of some of the most effective presentation skills.
How you use language and deliver messages play essential roles in how your audience will receive your presentation. Speak clearly and confidently, projecting your voice enough to ensure everyone can hear. Think before you speak, pausing when necessary and tailoring the way you talk to resonate with your particular audience.
Body language combines various critical elements, including posture, gestures, eye contact, expressions, and position in front of the audience. Body language is one of the elements that can instantly transform a presentation that would otherwise be dull into one that's dynamic and interesting.
The ability to project your voice improves your presentation by allowing your audience to hear what you're saying. It also increases your confidence to help settle any lingering nerves while also making your message more engaging. To project your voice, stand comfortably with your shoulders back. Take deep breaths to power your speaking voice and ensure you enunciate every syllable you speak.
How you present yourself plays a role in your body language and ability to project your voice. It also sets the tone for the presentation. Avoid slouching or looking overly tense. Instead, remain open, upright, and adaptable while taking the formality of the occasion into account.
Incorporating storytelling into a presentation is an effective strategy used by many powerful public speakers. It has the power to bring your subject to life and pique the audience’s curiosity. Don’t be afraid to tell a personal story, slowly building up suspense or adding a dramatic moment. And, of course, be sure to end with a positive takeaway to drive your point home.
Active listening is a valuable skill all on its own. When you understand and thoughtfully respond to what you hear—whether it's in a conversation or during a presentation—you’ll likely deepen your personal relationships and actively engage audiences during a presentation. As part of your presentation skill set, it helps catch and maintain the audience’s attention, helping them remain focused while minimizing passive response, ensuring the message is delivered correctly, and encouraging a call to action.
During a presentation, projecting confidence can help keep your audience engaged. Stage presence can help you connect with your audience and encourage them to want to watch you. To improve your presence, try amping up your normal demeanor by infusing it with a bit of enthusiasm. Project confidence and keep your information interesting.
Watch your audience as you’re presenting. If you’re holding their attention, it likely means you’re connecting well with them.
Monitoring your own emotions and reactions will allow you to react well in various situations. It helps you remain personable throughout your presentation and handle feedback well. Self-awareness can help soothe nervousness during presentations, allowing you to perform more effectively.
Writing is a form of presentation. Sharp writing skills can help you master your presentation’s outline to ensure you stay on message and remain clear about your objectives from the beginning until the end. It’s also helpful to have strong writing abilities for creating compelling slides and other visual aids.
Understanding an audience
When you understand your audience's needs and interests, you can design your presentation around them. In turn, you'll deliver maximum value to them and enhance your ability to make your message easy to understand.
Learn more about presentation skills from industry experts at SAP:
How to improve presentation skills
There’s an art to public speaking. Just like any other type of art, this is one that requires practice. Improving your presentation skills will help reduce miscommunications, enhance your time management capabilities, and boost your leadership skills. Here are some ways you can improve these skills:
Work on self-confidence.
When you’re confident, you naturally speak more clearly and with more authority. Taking the time to prepare your presentation with a strong opening and compelling visual aids can help you feel more confident. Other ways to improve your self-confidence include practicing positive self-talk, surrounding yourself with positive people, and avoiding comparing yourself (or your presentation) to others.
Develop strategies for overcoming fear.
Many people are nervous or fearful before giving a presentation. A bad memory of a past performance or insufficient self-confidence can contribute to fear and anxiety. Having a few go-to strategies like deep breathing, practicing your presentation, and grounding can help you transform that fear into extra energy to put into your stage presence.
Learn grounding techniques.
Grounding is any type of technique that helps you steer your focus away from distressing thoughts and keeps you connected with your present self. To ground yourself, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and imagine you’re a large, mature tree with roots extending deep into the earth—like the tree, you can become unshakable.
Learn how to use presentation tools.
Visual aids and other technical support can transform an otherwise good presentation into a wow-worthy one. A few popular presentation tools include:
Canva: Provides easy-to-design templates you can customize
Powtoon: Animation software that makes video creation fast and easy
PowerPoint: Microsoft's iconic program popular for dynamic marketing and sales presentations
Practice breathing techniques.
Breathing techniques can help quell anxiety, making it easier to shake off pre-presentation jitters and nerves. It also helps relax your muscles and get more oxygen to your brain. For some pre-presentation calmness, you can take deep breaths, slowly inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
While presenting, breathe in through your mouth with the back of your tongue relaxed so your audience doesn't hear a gasping sound. Speak on your exhalation, maintaining a smooth voice.
The more you practice, the better you’ll become. The more you doanything, the more comfortable you’ll feel engaging in that activity. Presentations are no different. Repeatedly practicing your own presentation also offers the opportunity to get feedback from other people and tweak your style and content as needed.
Tips to help you ace your presentation
Your presentation isn’t about you; it’s about the material you’re presenting. Sometimes, reminding yourself of this ahead of taking center stage can help take you out of your head, allowing you to connect effectively with your audience. The following are some of the many actions you can take on the day of your presentation.
Since you may have a bit of presentation-related anxiety, it’s important to avoid adding travel stress. Give yourself an abundance of time to arrive at your destination, and take into account heavy traffic and other unforeseen events. By arriving early, you also give yourself time to meet with any on-site technicians, test your equipment, and connect with people ahead of the presentation.
Become familiar with the layout of the room.
Arriving early also gives you time to assess the room and figure out where you want to stand. Experiment with the acoustics to determine how loudly you need to project your voice, and test your equipment to make sure everything connects and appears properly with the available setup. This is an excellent opportunity to work out any last-minute concerns and move around to familiarize yourself with the setting for improved stage presence.
Listen to presenters ahead of you.
When you watch others present, you'll get a feel for the room's acoustics and lighting. You can also listen for any data that’s relevant to your presentation and revisit it during your presentation—this can make the presentation more interactive and engaging.
Use note cards.
Writing yourself a script could provide you with more comfort. To prevent sounding too robotic or disengaged, only include talking points in your note cards in case you get off track. Using note cards can help keep your presentation organized while sounding more authentic to your audience.
Learn to deliver clear and confident presentations with Dynamic Public Speaking from the University of Washington. Build confidence, develop new delivery techniques, and practice strategies for crafting compelling presentations for different purposes, occasions, and audiences.
Forbes. “ New Survey: 70% Say Presentation Skills are Critical for Career Success , https://www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2014/09/25/new-survey-70-percent-say-presentation-skills-critical-for-career-success/?sh=619f3ff78890.” Accessed December 7, 2022.
Beautiful.ai. “ 15 Presentation and Public Speaking Stats You Need to Know , https://www.beautiful.ai/blog/15-presentation-and-public-speaking-stats-you-need-to-know. Accessed December 7, 2022.
This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
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Self-Assessment • 18 min read
How Good Are Your Presentation Skills?
Understanding your impact.
By the Mind Tools Content Team
How do you feel when you have to make a presentation? Are you well prepared and relaxed, confident that your performance will have the desired impact on your audience? new score
Or is the thought of standing on a podium, holding a microphone, enough to give you stage fright?
Enjoy it or not, presenting – in some form – is usually a part of business. Whether you get up in front of formal audiences on a regular basis, or you simply have to make your voice heard in a meeting, you're using presentation skills.
Many believe that good presenters are born, not made. This is simply not true . Sure, some people are more relaxed and comfortable speaking in front of others – but everyone can learn the skills and techniques they need to increase their level of confidence and performance when presenting.
From sales pitches to training lectures, good presentation and public speaking skills are key to many influential roles in today's business world. The good news about presenting is that you can improve with practice.
So do you have the skills you need to do a good job? And how effective are you when you have to "perform?" Take this short quiz to help you assess your skills.
For each statement, click the button in the column that best describes you. Please answer questions as you actually are (rather than how you think you should be), and don't worry if some questions seem to score in the "wrong direction." When you are finished, please click the "Calculate My Total" button at the bottom of the test.
Becoming a Better Presenter
Effective presentations are a mixture of a variety of elements. You have to know what your audience wants. You need to prepare good, interesting, engaging content. You must be confident in presenting the material, you have to know how to manage your environment successfully, and you need to make sure that your message has maximum impact.
Balancing all four elements is no easy task. And, when combined with the natural anxiety often felt before giving presentations, it's no wonder that many people struggle with this skill. In fact, fear of public speaking is extremely common.
However, you don't have to remain fearful and stressed by the thought of giving a presentation. With the right tools and material, along with planning and preparation, you can present with energy and confidence.
Let's now look in detail at those four key elements of effective presentations:
- Understanding your audience.
- Preparing your content.
- Delivering confidently.
- Controlling the environment.
Understanding Your Audience
(Questions 2, 5, 9)
The success of most presentations is generally judged on how the audience responds. You may think you did a great job, but unless your audience agrees with you, that may not be the case. Before you even begin putting your PowerPoint slides together, the first thing you need to do is understand what your audience wants. Try following these three steps:
Determine who the members of the audience are.
Find out what they want and expect from your presentation. What do they need to learn? Do they have entrenched attitudes or interests that you need to respect? And what do they already know that you don't have to repeat?
Create an outline for your presentation, and ask for advance feedback on your proposed content.
When what you say is what your audience wants or needs to hear, then you'll probably receive positive reinforcement throughout your presentation. If you see nods and smiles, or hear murmurs of agreement, for example, then this will motivate you to keep going and do a great job.
When your audience is satisfied, it doesn't matter if your delivery wasn't absolutely perfect. The primary goal of the people listening to your presentation is to get the information they need. When that happens, you've done a good job. Of course, you want to do a great job, not just a good job – and that's where the rest of the tips can help.
Preparing Your Content
(Questions 6, 11, 13, 14)
The only way to satisfy your audience's needs and expectations is to deliver the content they want. That means understanding what to present, and how to present it. Bear in mind that if you give the right information in the wrong sequence, this may leave the audience confused, frustrated, or bored.
If you provide the information in a well-structured format, and you include various techniques to keep the audience engaged and interested, then they'll probably remember what you said – and they'll remember you.
There are a variety of ways to structure your content, depending on the type of presentation you'll give. Here are some principles that you can apply:
Identify a few key points - To help the audience retain the messages you're giving them, use the chunking principle to organize your information into five to seven key points.
Don't include every detail - Good presentations inspire the audience to learn more, and ask further statements to maximize their understanding of the issue.
Use an outline - At the beginning, tell your audience what you intend to cover, and let them know what to expect. This helps build anticipation and interest from the start.
Start and end strongly - Capture people's interest as soon as you begin, and leave them with a message they won't forget. It's tempting to put all of your effort into the main body of the presentation. However, if you don't get people's attention at the start, they'll probably lose interest, and not really hear the rest anyway.
Use examples - Where possible, use lots of examples to support your points. A lecture is often the least interesting and engaging form of presentation. Look for ways to liven things up by telling stories, talking about real-life examples, and using metaphors to engage your audience fully.
A special type of presentation is one that seeks to persuade. Monroe's Motivated Sequence , consisting of five steps, gives you a framework for developing content for this kind of presentation:
1. Get the attention of your audience - Use an interesting 'hook' or opening point, like a shocking statistic. Be provocative and stimulating, not boring or calm.
2. Create a need - Convince the audience there's a problem, explain how it affects them – and persuade them that things need to change.
3. Define your solution - Explain what you think needs to be done.
4. Describe a detailed picture of success (or failure) - Give the audience a vision; something they can see, hear, taste, and touch.
5. Ask the audience to do something right away - Get the audience involved right from the start. Then it's usually much easier to keep them engaged and active in your cause.
To brush up on your skills of persuasion, look at The Rhetorical Triangle . This tool asks you to consider your communication from three perspectives: those of the writer, the audience, and the context. It's a method that builds credibility and ensures that your arguments are logical.
(Questions 1, 4, 7, 10)
Even the best content can be ineffective if your presentation style contradicts or detracts from your message. Many people are nervous when they present, so this will probably affect their delivery. But it's the major distractions that you want to avoid. As you build confidence, you can gradually eliminate the small and unconstructive habits you may have. These tips may help you:
Practice to build confidence – Some people think that if you practice too much, your speech will sound rehearsed and less genuine. Don't necessarily memorize your presentation, but be so familiar with the content that you're able to speak fluently and comfortably, and adjust as necessary.
Be flexible – This is easier to do if you're comfortable with the material. Don't attempt to present something you just learned the previous night. You want to know your material well enough to answer statements. And, if you don't know something, just admit it, and commit to finding the answer.
Welcome statements from the audience – This is a sign that a presenter knows what he or she is talking about. It builds audience confidence, and people are much more likely to trust what you say, and respect your message.
Use slides and other visual aids – These can help you deliver a confident presentation. The key point here is to learn how much visual information to give the audience, and yet not distract them from what you're saying.
Keep your visuals simple and brief – Don't use too many pictures, charts, or graphs. Your slides should summarize or draw attention to one or two items each. And don't try to fit your whole presentation onto your slides. If the slides cover every single detail, then you've probably put too much information on them. Slides should give the overall message, and then the audience should know where to look for supporting evidence. Manage your stress – Confidence has a lot to do with managing your stress levels. If you feel particularly nervous and anxious, then those emotions will probably show. They're such strong feelings that you can easily become overwhelmed, which can affect your ability to perform effectively. A little nervousness is useful because it can build energy. But that energy may quickly turn negative if nerves build to the point where you can't control them.
If you have anxiety before a presentation, try some of these stress management tools:
Use physical relaxation techniques , like deep breathing and visualization, to calm your body and ease your tension.
Use imagery to help keep calm, and visualize yourself delivering a successful presentation.
Learn strategies to build your self-confidence in general. The more assured you are about yourself and your abilities, the better you'll feel when you get up in front of people, and say what you want to say.
When you present with confidence and authority, your audience will likely pay attention and react to you as someone who's worth listening to. So "pretend" if you need to, by turning your nervousness into creative and enthusiastic energy.
For other tips on delivering confidently, see Delivering Great Presentations , Speaking to an Audience , Managing Presentation Nerves , and our Skillbook Even Better Presentations .
Controlling the Environment
(Questions 3, 4, 8, 12)
While much of the outside environment is beyond your control, there are still some things you can do to reduce potential risks to your presentation.
Practice in the presentation room – This forces you to become familiar with the room and the equipment. It will not only build your confidence, but also help you identify sources of risk. Do you have trouble accessing your PowerPoint file? Does the microphone reach the places you want to walk? Can you move the podium? Are there stairs that might cause you to trip? These are the sorts of issues you may discover and resolve by doing one or two practice presentations.
Do your own setup – Don't leave this to other people. Even though you probably want to focus on numerous other details, it's a good idea not to delegate too much of the preparation to others. You need the hands-on experience to make sure nothing disastrous happens at the real event. Test your timing – When you practice, you also improve your chances of keeping to time. You get a good idea how long each part of the presentation will actually take, and this helps you plan how much time you'll have for statements and other audience interactions.
Members of the audience want you to respect their time. If you end your presentation on time or early, this can make a huge, positive impression on them. When speakers go over their allowed time, they may disrupt the whole schedule of the event and/or cause the audience unnecessary inconvenience. Be considerate, and stick to your agenda as closely as possible.
Presenting doesn't have to be scary, or something you seek to avoid. Find opportunities to practice the tips and techniques discussed above, and become more confident in your ability to present your ideas to an audience. We all have something important to say, and sometimes it takes more than a memo or report to communicate it. You owe it to yourself, and your organization, to develop the skills you need to present your ideas clearly, purposefully, engagingly, and confidently.
This assessment has not been validated and is intended for illustrative purposes only. It is just one of many that help you evaluate your abilities in a wide range of important career skills.
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Important Presentation Skills for Workplace Success
Alison Doyle is one of the nation’s foremost career experts.
- What Are Presentation Skills?
Steps To Create a Presentation
Skills that help make an effective presentation, how to make your skills stand out.
xavierarnau / Getty Images
Whether you’re a high-level executive or an administrative assistant, developing your presentation skills is one key way to climb in an office-based job. Leaders make decisions based on information shared in presentation format, and hardly any business changes its mind without first seeing a persuasive presentation.
It is important for any office employee to know what steps go into creating an effective presentation and what presentation skills are most important to employers. Highlighting these skills will also help you stand out during your job search.
- Presentation skills are what you need to know to be able to give an engaging, effective presentation.
- The steps to creating a successful presentation are preparation, delivery, and follow-up.
- Employers want to know you have the necessary skills to research, analyze, and create a presentation, plus the communication skills needed to deliver it and field questions afterward.
- You can highlight your skills to employers through your resume, cover letter, and interview.
What Are Presentation Skills?
Presentation skills refer to all the qualities you need to create and deliver a clear and effective presentation. While what you say during a presentation matters, employers also value the ability to create supporting materials, such as slides.
Your prospective employer may want you to deliver briefings and reports to colleagues, conduct training sessions, present information to clients, or perform any number of other tasks that involve speaking before an audience.
Giving engaging and easy-to-understand talks is a major component of the strong oral communication skills that are a job requirement for many positions. Not all presentations take place in a formal meeting. Many presentation skills are relevant to one-on-one consults or sales calls.
Any presentation has three phases: preparation, delivery, and follow-up. All presentation skills fit into one of these three phases.
Preparation involves research and building the presentation. Consider the audience you'll be presenting to and what most interests them. This may mean crafting the entire text (or at least writing notes) and creating any slides and other supporting audio/visual materials.
You will also have to make sure that the appropriate venue is available, properly set up beforehand, and ensure the projector (if you'll need one) works and connects with your laptop.
You'll also want to practice your presentation as many times as you need to to feel comfortable delivering it with ease and confidence within the time allotted for the presentation.
Skills related to preparation include conducting research related to your presentation topic, devising charts and graphs depicting your research findings, and learning about your audience to better tailor your presentation to their needs. You'll also need to create digital slides, using statistics, examples, and stories to illustrate your points and effectively to persuade the audience.
Preparing handouts or digital references is an added courtesy that will help the audience pay attention because they won't be preoccupied with note-taking.
Your delivery is the part of the presentation that the audience sees. A good delivery depends on careful preparation and confident presentation and requires its own distinctive skill set .
Skills related to delivery include giving an attention-grabbing opening for a talk, providing a summary of what will be covered to introduce the presentation and provide context, and using body language and eye contact to convey energy and confidence.
Make sure you pause to emphasize key points, modulate your vocal tone for emphasis, and articulate your speech clearly and smoothly.
Don't be afraid of injecting humor or speaking with enthusiasm and animation—these techniques can help you in projecting confidence to your audience.
Summarize key points at the conclusion of the presentation, and be sure to have a plan for how you'll field any audience questions.
Presentation follow-up includes properly breaking down and storing any equipment, contacting any audience members with whom you agreed to communicate further, and soliciting, collecting, and analyzing feedback.
In some presentations, you may collect information from audience members—such as names and contact information or completed surveys—that you also must organize and store.
Skills related to follow-up include creating an evaluation form to solicit feedback from attendees, interpreting feedback from evaluations, and modifying the content and/or delivery for future presentations. Other follow-up skills include organizing a database of attendees for future presentations, interviewing key attendees to gain additional feedback, and emailing presentation slides to attendees.
To create and deliver the most effective presentation takes a variety of skills, which you can always work to improve.
You must be able to look honestly at your performance, assess the feedback you get, and figure out what you need to do to get better. That takes analytical thinking .
More importantly, you need to have a firm grasp of the information you are about to communicate to others. You need to analyze your audience and be prepared to think quickly if asked questions that force you to demonstrate that you are fully aware of the material and its implications.
The kind of analytical skills you need to be an effective presenter include problem sensitivity, problem-solving , reporting and surveying, optimization, and predictive modeling. It also helps to be adept at strategic planning, integration, process management, and diagnostics. With these skills, you'll be better able to objectively analyze, evaluate, and act on your findings.
You do not want to be the person who spends half of their presentation time trying to find a cable to connect their laptop to the projector. Many things can and do go wrong just before a presentation unless you are organized .
Presentation preparation also means keeping track of notes, information, and start/stop times. You will want to proofread and fine-tune all the materials you plan to use for the presentation to catch any mistakes. Make sure you time yourself when you rehearse so you know how long it will take to deliver the presentation.
A presentation that's finished in half the time allotted is as problematic as one that's too long-winded.
Some key organizational skills to work on include event planning, auditing, benchmarking, prioritization, and recordkeeping. Make sure your scheduling is on point and pay close attention to detail. Quick thinking is an important skill to have for when things inevitably go wrong.
When speaking to an audience, the way you present yourself can be just as important as how you present your information. You want to appear confident and engaging. You can do this through good posture, the use of hand gestures, and making eye contact with the audience.
Practice your nonverbal communication by filming yourself doing a practice presentation and observing your body language carefully. Your physical bearing and poise should convey a degree of comfort and confidence in front of an audience, while active listening , respect, and emotional intelligence will help you in facilitating group discussions.
Microsoft PowerPoint is the dominant software used to create visual aids for presentations. Learn to use it well, including the special features outside of basic templates that can really bring a presentation to life. Even if someone else is preparing your slideshow for you, it will help to know how to use the software in case of last-minute changes.
Other software that is good to learn includes Microsoft Office, Apple Keynote, Google Slides, and Adobe Presenter.
You need to appear comfortable and engaging when speaking before a live audience, even if you're not. This can take years of practice, and sometimes public speaking just isn't for certain people. An uncomfortable presenter is a challenge for everyone. Fortunately, public speaking skills can improve with practice . Some skills to work on include articulation, engagement, and memorization. You should be able to assess the needs of the audience and handle difficult questions. Controlling your performance anxiety will help you communicate more effectively.
Research is the first step in preparing most presentations and could range from a multi-year process to spending 20 minutes online, depending on context and subject matter. At the very least, you must be able to clearly frame research questions, identify appropriate information sources, and organize your results. Other useful skills include brainstorming, collaboration , comparative analysis, data interpretation, and deductive and inductive reasoning. Business intelligence is a skill that will help you evaluate what information you need to support the bottom line, while case analysis and causal relationships will help you parse and evaluate meaning.
Public speaking is one form of verbal communication , but you will need other forms to give a good presentation. Specifically, you must know how to answer questions. You should be able to understand questions asked by your audience (even if they're strange or poorly worded) and provide respectful, honest, and accurate answers without getting off-topic. Use active listening, focus, and empathy to understand your audience. Skills such as assertiveness, affirmation, and enunciation will help you restate and clarify your key points as it relates to their questions or concerns.
You may or may not need a written script, but you do need to pre-plan what you are going to say, in what order you will say it, and at what level of detail. If you can write a cohesive essay, you can plan a presentation.
Typical writing skills apply to your presentation just as they do to other forms of writing, including grammar, spelling, vocabulary, and proofreading. The ability to build outlines, take notes, and mark up documents will also be useful.
More Presentation Skills
In addition to the skills previously mentioned, there are other important skills that can apply to your presentation. The other skills you need will depend on what your presentation is about, your audience, and your intended results. Some of these additional skills include:
- Providing anecdotes to illustrate a point
- Designing handouts
- Recognizing and countering objections
- Posing probing questions to elicit more detail about specific issues
- Awareness of ethnic, political, and religious diversity
- Receiving criticism without defensiveness
- Refraining from speaking too often or interrupting others
- Anticipating the concerns of others
- Product knowledge
- SWOT analysis format
- Supporting statements with evidence
- Working with reviewers
- Developing and maintaining standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Developing a proposition statement
- Creating and managing expectations
Include skills on your resume. If applicable, you might mention these words in your resume summary or headline .
Highlight skills in your cover letter. Mention one or two specific presentation skills and give examples of instances when you demonstrated these traits in the workplace.
Show your presentation skills in job interviews. During the interview process, you may be asked to give a sample presentation. In this case, you will want to embody these skills during the presentation. For example, you will want to demonstrate your oral communication skills by speaking clearly and concisely throughout the presentation.
PennState. " Steps in Preparing a Presentation ."
Harvard Division of Continuing Education. " 10 Tips for Improving Your Public Speaking Skills ."
Northern Illinois University. " Delivering the Presentation ."
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What It Takes to Give a Great Presentation
- Carmine Gallo
Five tips to set yourself apart.
Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization. But while there are plenty of good speakers in the world, you can set yourself apart out by being the person who can deliver something great over and over. Here are a few tips for business professionals who want to move from being good speakers to great ones: be concise (the fewer words, the better); never use bullet points (photos and images paired together are more memorable); don’t underestimate the power of your voice (raise and lower it for emphasis); give your audience something extra (unexpected moments will grab their attention); rehearse (the best speakers are the best because they practice — a lot).
I was sitting across the table from a Silicon Valley CEO who had pioneered a technology that touches many of our lives — the flash memory that stores data on smartphones, digital cameras, and computers. He was a frequent guest on CNBC and had been delivering business presentations for at least 20 years before we met. And yet, the CEO wanted to sharpen his public speaking skills.
- Carmine Gallo is a Harvard University instructor, keynote speaker, and author of 10 books translated into 40 languages. Gallo is the author of The Bezos Blueprint: Communication Secrets of the World’s Greatest Salesman (St. Martin’s Press).
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Home » Water Outreach Education » BEP Website Resources » Use Education Resources » Tools for Teaching » Teaching and Presentation Skills » Teaching Skills: goals and objectives
Teaching Skills: goals and objectives
Tools for teaching navigation.
Tools for Teaching : Introduction
Facilitation Skills : The art of group facilitation
Teaching and Presentation Skills : Keep these techniques in mind
Tips for Programs : practical examples and resources
Create Effective Presentations
Goals and objectives .
When you begin, the first and most important question to ask is:
Why am I making this presentation?
What am I going to say?
Goals describe in broad, general terms what you hope to accomplish.
Objectives explain specifically what participants should know , be able to do , and be like as a result of the presentation.
For short presentations
- You need 1 major goal that summarizes your overall purpose.
- You need 2-4 specific objectives that identify what will be accomplished.
For long programs
- You need 1-2 major goals to help frame the overall program.
- You need 2-5 more specific objectives that identify what will be accomplished.
- If the program has multiple parts, it can be helpful to identify 1-3 specific objectives for each session.
Four Types of Objectives: Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and Behavior
When planning a presentation, you need to identify what you want your audience to know (knowledge), do (skills and behavior), and be like (attitudes) as a result of your session.
- List, Identify Select, Give example, Describe, Name, Tell, Outline, Explain, State, Summarize, Distinguish
- Compare, Observe, Apply, Solve, Contrast, Draw, Show, Operate, Infer, Practice, Construct, Prepare, Analyze, Illustrate, Modify, Demonstrate, Categorize, Manipulate, Predict, Model
- Express, Clarify, Support, Interpret, Evaluate, Appraise, Conclude, Criticize, Judge, Debate, Justify, Feel
- Reduce, Dispose, Teach, Install, Exercise, Present
Adapted with permission from Soil and Water Conservation District Outreach: A Handbook for Program Development, Implementation and Evaluation. Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Soil and Water Conservation, 2003.
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- PRESENTATION SKILLS
- A - Z List of Presentation Skills
- Top Tips for Effective Presentations
- General Presentation Skills
- What is a Presentation?
- Preparing for a Presentation
- Organising the Material
- Writing Your Presentation
- Deciding the Presentation Method
- Managing your Presentation Notes
- Working with Visual Aids
- Presenting Data
- Managing the Event
- Coping with Presentation Nerves
- Dealing with Questions
- How to Build Presentations Like a Consultant
- Self-Presentation in Presentations
- Specific Presentation Events
- Remote Meetings and Presentations
- Giving a Speech
- Presentations in Interviews
- Presenting to Large Groups and Conferences
- Giving Lectures and Seminars
- Managing a Press Conference
- Attending Public Consultation Meetings
- Managing a Public Consultation Meeting
- Crisis Communications
- Elsewhere on Skills You Need:
- Communication Skills
- Facilitation Skills
- Teams, Groups and Meetings
- Effective Speaking
- Question Types
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Presenting information clearly and effectively is a key skill in getting your message across. Today, presentation skills are required in almost every field, and most of us are required to give presentations on occasions. While some people take this in their stride, others find it much more challenging.
It is, however, possible to improve your presentation skills with a bit of work. This section of SkillsYouNeed is designed to help.
Many people feel terrified when asked to talk in public, especially to bigger groups. However, these fears can be reduced by good preparation, which will also lay the groundwork for making an effective presentation.
There are Different Types of Presentations, but They’re All Presentations
There are any number of occasions when you may be asked to speak in public or to a group of people. They include:
- Presenting or making a speech at a conference or event.
- Objecting to a planning proposal at a council meeting.
- Making a speech at a wedding.
- Proposing a vote of thanks to someone at a club or society.
- On behalf of a team, saying goodbye and presenting a gift to a colleague who is leaving.
- Seeking investment or a loan to help you set up a new business.
These can all be considered presentations.
They do not, however, all require the same approach. You would not, for example, use PowerPoint to thank a colleague who was leaving. It would be unusual (though it has been done) to use it in a speech at a wedding. However, a conference audience would be somewhat surprised NOT to see slides projected onto a screen.
It follows, therefore, that there is no single set of rules that apply to all presentations. There are, however, some things that every presentation opportunity has in common. These include:
You will present better if you have prepared effectively . This does NOT necessarily mean that you have written out your speech verbatim and rehearsed it until you know it off by heart—although that might work for some people. It does, however, mean that you have to be confident that you are saying the right thing, in the right way, to the right people.
You need to be clear about your audience and your message . Every presentation will be better if you have clearly considered the message that you want or need to convey, and how best to convey it to your audience. These two pieces of information drive your style, structure, content, and use of visual aids.
You must never overrun your allocated time . In other words, don’t outstay your welcome. Almost every speech or presentation is better if it is shorter. Nobody minds going for coffee early or finishing before they expected to do so. Everybody minds being held up.
Generally speaking, your audience starts on your side. As a rule, your audience is there (more or less) voluntarily. They have chosen to listen to you, and they want to enjoy your presentation. The occasion is yours to lose.
An Important Point
There is one very important point to remember: if what you’re doing or saying is not working, do something else.
One of the worst feelings as a presenter is that you have lost your audience. You know that’s happened, but you continue to stumble through your remaining PowerPoint slides for the next 15 minutes, as your audience checks their phones and wishes it was coffee time. You think you have no choice, but that’s not actually true.
When you present, you are in charge of the room . The audience has effectively handed you control and is sitting back waiting for you to do something. You may have prepared a specific talk, but if you see that isn’t working, you can always change it. You are, after all, the expert.
You can, for example:
- Skip through some slides to a section that they may find more interesting;
- Ask your audience whether there is particular information that they were expecting that you are not providing;
- Suggest that everyone looks a bit sleepy, and maybe it would be better to start questions early, or have a discussion; or
- Ask the audience at the start of the presentation what they are expecting and what they want you to cover. That way, you can tailor the presentation to fit their expectations.
Just as when you are facilitating, you want to help your audience get the most out of your presentation. The best way to do that is to accept feedback—which may include smiles, nods of interest, or people getting their phones out.
Quick Guide to Effective Presentations
If you need to improve your presentation skills quickly, then a really good place to start is with our Top Tips for Effective Presentations .
This will give you some ‘quick wins’ that will help you improve your presentations. If you’re already an experienced presenter, this page should be a useful refresher, or even take your skills from good to great.
Our tips include general ideas about connecting with your audience, information about the importance of voice and body language, and detailed tips about preparing slide-shows.
The most important tip of all, however, is to remember that it's all about your audience.
Keep that in mind, and your presentation skills will almost instantly improve.
If you have more time to develop your presentation skills…
…then the Presentation Skills section of SkillsYouNeed is designed to help.
Our Presentation Skills section is split into two parts.
- The first gives you a step-by-step guide to putting together and delivering a professional and effective presentation .
- The second provides more detailed information about presenting and communicating in particular circumstances .
You can either use our step-by-step guide to walk you through the presentation preparation and delivery process, or you can focus on particular areas that are an issue for you.
Preparing for Your Presentation
The guide starts by explaining What is a Presentation?
We define a presentation as a means of communication that can be adapted to various speaking situations, such as talking to a group, addressing a meeting or briefing a team. Effective presentations usually require careful thought and preparation—although this preparation need not take very long.
Preparation is the most important part of making a successful presentation. Our page on Preparing For A Presentation explains what information you need before you can really start to plan your presentation and decide what you are going to say. The most important aspects include the objective of the presentation, the subject, and the audience.
Irrespective of whether the occasion is formal or informal, you should always aim to give a clear, well-structured delivery. To do so, you need to organise your presentation material . You can either do this in your head, or use a technique like mind-mapping to help you identify links and good flow.
By the time you come to write your presentation , you should know exactly what you want to say and the order in which you want to say it. You may want to use one of the standard presentation structures, such as ‘What, Why, How?’. You will also find it helpful to consider how to tell your story most effectively, and to use stories in your presentation to illustrate points. There is more about this in our page on writing your presentation .
You also need to decide on your presentation method . Presentations range from the formal to the informal. Your choice of presentation method will depend on many factors, including the audience, the venue, the facilities, and your own preferences.
Visual aids can add another dimension to your presentation, helping to hold your audience’s attention, and also act as a reminder of what you wanted to say. However, they need handling with care. Only use visual aids if they are necessary to maintain interest and assist comprehension . If visual aids are not used well, they can ruin a presentation.
See Working with Visual Aids to avoid falling into the trap of the dreaded ‘ Death by PowerPoint’ .
A particular case of visual aids is the use of data in a presentation.
There are times when using data in a presentation can really help you to tell the story better. It is, however, important not to blind your audience with statistics. You also need to remember that many people find numbers difficult to understand. Our page on Presenting Data gives some hints and tips about using data effectively in a presentation situation.
On the Day of the Presentation
There are a number of aspects to delivering your presentation on the day.
The practicalities of how you manage your presentation can make a significant difference to its success, and to your nerves! For example, turning up early means that you have will have a chance to see the room, and ensure that you can operate all the necessary equipment. There is more about how to cope, including managing sound systems, audio-visual equipment and lecterns in our page on Managing the Presentation Event .
Many people also feel very nervous before and during a presentation. This is entirely normal, and can even be helpful if you can channel it in the right way. There are some tried and tested strategies and techniques to manage your nerves so that you can concentrate on delivering an effective and engaging presentation.
See Coping with Presentation Nerves for some ideas that will help.
How you present yourself can also affect how your audience responds to your presentation.
You need to fit with your audience's expectations if they are not going to spend quite a large chunk of your presentation dealing with the differences between expectations and reality.
For more about aspects of self-presentation, see our page on Self-Presentation in Presentations .
You also need to consider how to manage your presentation notes .
Few people are able to give a presentation without notes. You will need to know your own abilities and decide how best to make the presentation. You might manage your talk by using full text, notes on cue cards, keywords on cue cards, or mind maps. There is more about this in our page on Managing your Presentation Notes .
After the presentation, you may be faced with a question-and-answer session. For many people, this is the worst part of the event.
Decide in advance how and when you wish to handle questions. Some speakers prefer questions to be raised as they arise during the presentation whilst others prefer to deal with questions at the end. At the start of your presentation, you should make clear your preferences to the audience. See our page on Dealing with Questions for more ideas about how to make the question session pleasant and productive, rather than something to dread.
Presenting Under Particular Circumstances
You may find that you need to give a presentation under certain circumstances, where your previous experience is less helpful.
Circumstances that may be new to you include:
- Giving a Speech , for example, at a wedding.
One particular special case is attending public consultation meetings.
Our pages on Attending Public Consultation Meetings , and Managing Public Consultation Meetings provide information to help whether you are a concerned member of the public, or responsible for organising a public meeting.
You may also find yourself required to organise or manage a press conference.
Although this may not strictly be what you would describe as a ‘presentation’, it is nonetheless an event at which you are required to present your organisation in a particular light.
Our page on Managing a Press Conference gives some ideas about how best to do that.
Finally, should you be unlucky enough to be involved in a serious crisis or disaster that affects your organisation, our page on Crisis Communications gives some ideas about how to manage press and public relations on these occasions.
Start with: What is a Presentation? Top Tips for Effective Presentations
See also: Personal Appearance Interpersonal Communication Skills
Presentation Skills Performance Goals And Objectives
Related Performance Goals
Presentation Skills Goals and Objectives Examples
- Presentation Science
Set SMART Goals for Better Presentations
- By: Amy Boone
It’s the season of wish lists. What is it that you are wishing for this holiday season?
It’s not something you can get on Amazon, but many of us wish we were better at public speaking. But wishing to get better at giving presentations is like wishing to learn to play the piano. Or wishing to improve our golf swing. Presenting is an art form. A skill. It’s something that takes time and training and practice to improve. It takes intentionality.
If becoming a better presenter is on the list of things you’d like to accomplish, set SMART goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. It’s a theory that has been adapted by different theorists. But it’s largely attributed to George T. Doran who wrote about SMART goals in his 1981 article “ There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives .” Some of his original terms have been adapted over the years, but the concept remains the same.
Let’s use Doran’s theory to help us move from wishing we were better speakers to actually achieving our goals.
First, “I want to be a better presenter” is a great goal, but it’s too broad. You need to zoom in. What is it specifically that you want to improve on? If you have a presentation coming up, record it. If you don’t, simply think about the things you feel you need to get better at. Then, make a list of at least 5 specific goals. They could be things like, make better eye contact with my audience members . Or develop content that flows more smoothly from the beginning to the end of the presentation . Or reduce the number of filler words (um’s, uh’s,) and use pauses more thoughtfully . Or increase my volume and vocal variety .
Once you have a targeted list of things you will work to improve, you can move on to examining how to measure them.
How you measure your goals will depend on the specific goals you’ve identified in the first step. Many of them can be measured by simply recording yourself every time you present and then going back to watch yourself and assessing your progress.
Other goals will take a little more work. You might need to enlist the help of audience members to give you feedback via an anonymous survey using a tool like SurveyMonkey. Or you might find it helpful to enlist the help of a presentation skills coach who can give you expert feedback on your progress.
I’m tempted to leave this letter blank. Why? Because I wholeheartedly believe that every single person who wants to get better at public speaking can. Are there some people who are naturally more gifted in this field? Sure. Just like there are some people who have natural music abilities or natural athletic abilities. But no one gets great just on natural abilities. Every skill takes work.
So yes , any goal you make toward improving your public speaking skills is achievable. In an article for NBC News, Sarah DiGiulio cites Marjorie L. North, a speech pathologist and lecturer at Harvard University who has been teaching public speaking for over 35 years. North says that everyone, regardless of personality traits, feels nervous when they are in front of a large crowd because it’s not a natural activity. And everyone can improve with preparation and practice. This is because public speaking is “a skill, not a talent.”
This is another letter that it’s tempting for me to want to skip over. Very few things are more valuable than strong communication skills. In fact, the CNBC article “ The 10 Most In-Demand Skills of 2019, According to LinkedIn ” lists persuasion (the ability to communicate in a way that influences and moves) second. Second. So if you are wondering if your goals to improve your presentation skills are relevant, they are .
This last element of SMART goals holds you accountable. For goals that seem scary or unattainable, you can delay progress indefinitely. If you don’t start, you don’t risk failing, right? But to get serious about achieving a goal, you need to instill progress markers and deadlines.
SMART goals can help you stop wishing and start working. Begin now. Write out specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals about what you want to accomplish as a presenter.
If you want some support in reaching your goals , check out our full line of presentation design and training services today .
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Empowering Scientific Presentations
5 New Year’s Goals For Improving Your Presentation Skills in 2019
The new year is officially here and with it comes an opportunity for you to set some new goals for improving your presentation skills.
But what goals should you aim for? And how can you give yourself the highest probability of actually improving your presentation skills?
Setting goals can be a powerful method for self-improvement but making sure they are realistic and achievable can be a skill in and of itself. All too often, people (myself included) set lofty, big goals because they sound exciting and impressive.
In reality, given our current physical, mental, or emotional state, these goals can be unattainable and may set us up for disappointment: while I may want to run a 200-mile ultramarathon by year’s end, if I’ve never jogged around the block, then setting this goal is a bit unrealistic.
Some Goal Setting Basics
So, to help you set some realistic goals for improving your presentation skills, let’s lay a proper foundation.
Much has been written in the psychology literature on the basics of effective goal setting and we’ll borrow a few lessons from this area to help us.
To give yourself the highest chance of success, the goals you set should be:
- Specific: it is clear what you want to accomplish and what will be necessary to complete it.
- Measurable: you can clearly collect objective evidence of achieving your goal.
- Achievable: Your goal should stretch your limits, but not to the point that you’ll never get there.
- Relevant: Your goal should matter to you and be relevant to your current lifestyle and situation. If you just had a knee injury, then running an ultra-marathon probably isn’t right for you. This also ensures that working towards your goal feels rewarding. If you’ve never cared about running than why are you setting a running goal?
- Time-bound: Everybody needs deadlines. It can be motivating and sets a target date for success.
These are some goal setting basics, called the SMART criteria , that you can apply to nearly anything.
If you want to learn more about setting SMART goals, read more here .
Some 2019 Goals For Developing Effective Scientific Presentation Skills
Let’s talk about setting SMART goals for improving your presentation skills in 2019.
I came up with 5 simple, short-term SMART goals, listed below, for presenters who are looking for easy ways to start developing effective scientific presentation skills.
Goal #1: Transform a text-heavy slide into a visual slide
Having a lot of text on your slides can make it difficult for your audience to absorb the information presented. So, try taking one (and only one!) of your most “ texty ” slides and cut out some of the extraneous text or look for a way to represent the information visually. To make this goal more specific and measurable, aim for <40 words on the slide. The fewer the better.
Goal #2: Split up a multi-panel figure
Its common practice in a lot of science presentations to take published figures/data and plop it directly onto a slide . Unfortunately for your audience, this typically means multiple panels of (sometimes irrelevant) data that is difficult for your audience to digest without adequate and often lengthy explanation by the speaker. If you are one of those presenters, try taking one slide with a multi-panel figure and asking the following questions:
- Which of these pieces of data is relevant for this presentation?
- Should this data be presented in a stepwise manner ? Is there a logical sequence in which the data should be presented?
- Should I put each relevant panel onto its own slide?
Based on your answers, remove irrelevant data, choose a sequence in which each piece of data should be presented, and try presenting your data in this new format.
For more reading on how to do this and how a published paper is different from a presentation try reading this blog by David L Stern.
Goal #3: Practice your presentation once
I’ve written a step-by-step guide to practicing your research presentation , but understand how unrealistic following this guide can be if you aren’t already in the habit of practicing. So, instead of going to the trouble of getting a mock audience and practicing multiple times before you give a presentation, just try practicing a presentation one time before you give it! Don’t bother inviting anyone: just get you and your presentation alone in a room together.
If this seems like too much of a time commitment and doesn’t seem specific or achievable, try this: pick 5 slides out of a larger presentation and practice them. Limit this exercise to 5 minutes and again, just try this once!
Goal #4: Look at the audience
Public speaking is one of the most nerve-wracking things that humans do. Many times, out of nervousness and anxiety, presenters will turn towards their slides and away from the audience out of discomfort.
While this is an easy way to hide from direct eye contact or forget that you are in front of an audience, making eye contact with your audience can make your presentation more engaging and persuasive .
Try setting a realistic goal for engaging with your audience during a presentation. Here are some example SMART goals:
- Make eye contact with an audience member near the front, once per slide. If that sounds like too much, try just once during your presentation.
- Choose a slide that you are really familiar with and could present in your sleep. Try presenting this entire slide while looking at one person in the audience.
- Try presenting your introduction and conclusion while looking at one person in the audience.
Don’t try all three of these as once or even at all. Just pick one and give it a shot. And for some “how to” advice on public speaking, check out this blog .
Goal #5: Use new presentation software
Pretty much everyone giving a presentation in a science or research field uses PowerPoint. Trying new presentation software can give you new tools to engage your audience and can help you stand out from other PowerPoint “lifers.”
Here are 3 presentation platforms to explore:
- Prezi : This software offers a cool visual style and organizes information spatially in a large “map.” I’ve written about the Prezi software before and you can read more about in that post.
- Haiku Deck : All of Haiku Deck’s templates offer a highly visual design template that encourages the use of minimal text on a slide. There is a free trial available and it is fairly straightforward to use.
- Vyond : This is less of a slide deck software and more video creation software. It has a ton of novel animation features and offers short templated clips that are easy to use and edit. Vyond also offers a free trial so it is easy for new users to try it out.
These 3 were chosen because they offer some unique features that distinguish them from PowerPoint and for presenters who want to try something new, they are worth investigating.
And to make this goal more specific, measurable, and achievable, try taking a 5-slide series from an older presentation and transitioning the information into one of the three new presentation platforms above.
Developing Effective Scientific Presentation Skills With Your Own Personal Goals
I’ve done my best to make these goals as general as possible and their intention is to help scientists and researchers start to develop effective presentation skills with simple, achievable, and measurable goals.
If you think these goals are too easy or if they don’t “speak to you” personally, try setting your own presentation goals. And when you’ve completed those, try setting new goals. Continuously setting SMART, short-term goals can help you develop effective presentation skills with small, incremental improvements.
We hope you have a great 2019, filled with fantastic achievements, great science, and improved presentation skills. Here’s a quick blog summary:
- The beginning of the year is a great time to think about setting goals for self-improvement.
- Since you care about your presentations, try setting simple, specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals.
- We set 5 SMART goals above, but if they don’t speak to you, make your own. Or if you achieve your goals, try setting another goal.
If you feel like sharing your own personal presentation goals with someone or need an accountabilibuddy , then please contact us and let us know what your 2019 presentation goals are and how this blog can help.
I am an ex-academic research scientist with 12 years of experience in molecular biology, microbiology, and immunology. I'm passionate about communicating science effectively to a wide variety of audiences through written and oral presentations.
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Home Blog Education Presentation Skills 101: A Guide to Presentation Success
Presentation Skills 101: A Guide to Presentation Success
Getting the perfect presentation design is just a step toward a successful presentation. For the experienced user, building presentation skills is the answer to elevating the power of your message and showing expertise on any subject. Still, one can ask: is it the same set of skills, or are they dependable on the type of presentation?
In this article, we will introduce the different types of presentations accompanied by the skillset required to master them. The purpose, as always, is to retain the audience’s interest for a long-lasting and convincing message.
Table of Contents
The Importance of Presentation Skills
Persuasive presentations, instructional presentations, informative presentations, inspirational presentations, basic presentation skills, what are the main difficulties when giving a presentation, recommendations to improve your presentation skills, closing statement.
Effective communication is the answer to reaching business and academic goals. The scenarios in which we can be required to deliver a presentation are as diverse as one can imagine. Still, some core concepts apply to all presentations.
We define presentation skills as a compendium of soft skills that directly affect your presentation performance and contribute to creating a great presentation. These are not qualities acquired by birth but skills you ought to train and master to delve into professional environments.
You may ask: is it really that evident when a presenter is not prepared? Here are some common signs people can experience during presentations:
- Evasive body language: Not making eye contact with the audience, arms closed tightly to the body, hands in pockets all the time.
- Lack of interest in the presenter’s voice: dull tone, not putting an effort to articulate the topics.
- Doubting when asked to answer a question
- Irksome mood
The list can go on about common presenter mistakes , and most certainly, it will affect the performance of any presented data if the lack of interest by the presenter is blatantly obvious. Another element to consider is anxiety, and according to research by the National Institute of Mental Health, 73% of the population in the USA is affected by glossophobia , which is the fear of public speaking, judgment, or negative evaluation by other people.
Therefore, presentation skills training is essential for any business professional who wants to achieve effective communication . It will remove the anxiety from presentation performance and help users effectively deliver their message and connect with the audience.
Archetypes of presentations
Persuasive presentations aim to convince the audience – often in short periods – to acquire a product or service, adhere to a cause, or invest in a company. For business entrepreneurs or politicians, persuasive presentations are their tool for the trade.
Unless you aim to be perceived as an imposter, a proper persuasive presentation has the elements of facts, empathy, and logic, balanced under a well-crafted narrative. The central pillar of these presentations is to identify the single factor that gathered your audience: it could be a market need, a social cause, or a revolutionary concept for today’s society. It has to be something with enough power to gather critiques – both good and bad.
That single factor has to be backed up by facts. Research that builds your hypothesis on how to solve that problem. A deep understanding of the target audience’s needs , concerns, and social position regarding the solution your means can offer. When those elements are in place, building a pitch becomes an easy task.
Graphics can help you introduce information in a compelling format, lowering the need for lengthy presentations. Good presentation skills for persuasive presentations go by the hand of filtering relevant data and creating the visual cues that resonate with what your audience demands.
One powerful example of a persuasive presentation is the technique known as the elevator pitch . You must introduce your idea or product convincingly to the audience in a timeframe between 30 seconds and less than 2 minutes. You have to expose:
- What do you do
- What’s the problem to solve
- Why is your solution different from others
- Why should the audience care about your expertise
For that very purpose, using engaging graphics with contrasting colors elevates the potential power of your message. It speaks professionalism, care for details, and out-of-the-box thinking. Knowing how to end a presentation is also critical, as your CTAs should be placed with care.
Therefore, let’s resume the requirements of persuasive presentations in terms of good presentation skills:
- Identifying problems and needs
- Elaborating “the hook” (the element that grabs the audience’s attention)
- Knowing how to “tie” your audience (introducing a piece of information related to the hook that causes an emotional impact)
- Broad knowledge of body language and hand gestures to quickly convey your message
- Being prepared to argue a defense of your point of view
- Handling rejection
- Having a proactive attitude to convert opportunities into new projects
- Using humor, surprise, or personal anecdotes as elements to sympathize with the audience
- Having confidence
- Be able to summarize facts and information in visually appealing ways
You can learn more about persuasive presentation techniques by clicking here .
In the case of instructional presentations, we ought to differentiate two distinctive types:
- Lecture Presentations : Presentations being held at universities or any other educative institution. Those presentations cover, topic by topic, and the contents of a syllabus and are created by the team of teachers in charge of the course.
- Training Presentations : These presentations take place during in-company training sessions and usually comprise a good amount of content that is resumed into easy-to-take solutions. They are aimed to coach employees over certain topics relevant to their work performance. The 70-20-10 Model is frequently used to address these training situations.
Lecture presentations appeal to the gradual introduction of complex concepts, following a structure set in the course’s syllabus. These presentations often have a similar aesthetic as a group of professors or researchers created to share their knowledge about a topic. Personal experience does tell that course presentations often rely on factual data, adequately documented, and on the theoretical side.
An example of a presentation that lies under this concept is a Syllabus Presentation, used by the teaching team to introduce the subject to new students, evaluation methods, concepts to be learned, and expectations to pass the course.
On the other hand, training presentations are slide decks designed to meet an organization’s specific needs in the formal education of their personnel. Commonly known as “continuous education,” plenty of companies invest resources in coaching their employees to achieve higher performance results. These presentations have the trademark of being concise since their idea is to introduce the concepts that shall be applied in practice sessions.
Ideally, the training presentations are introduced with little text and easy-to-recognize visual cues. Since the idea is to summarize as much as possible, these are visually appealing for the audience. They must be dynamic enough to allow the presenter to convey the message.
Those key takeaways remind employees when they revisit their learning resources and allow them to ruminate on questions that fellow workers raise.
To sum up this point, building presentation skills for instructional presentations requires:
- Ability to put complex concepts into simpler words
- Patience and a constant learning mindset
- Voice training to deliver lengthy speeches without being too dense
- Ability to summarize points and note the key takeaways
- Empathizing with the audience to understand their challenges in the learning process
The informative presentations take place in business situations, such as when to present project reports from different departments to the management. Another potential usage of these presentations is in SCRUM or other Agile methodologies, when a sprint is completed, to discuss the advance of the project with the Product Owner.
As they are presentations heavily dependent on data insights, it’s common to see the usage of infographics and charts to express usually dense data in simpler terms and easy to remember.
Informative presentations don’t just fall into the business category. Ph.D. Dissertation and Thesis presentations are topics that belong to the informative presentations category as they condense countless research hours into manageable reports for the academic jury.
Since these informational presentations can be perceived as lengthy and data-filled, it is important to learn the following professional presentation skills:
- Attention to detail
- Be able to explain complex information in simpler terms
- Creative thinking
- Powerful diction
- Working on pauses and transitions
- Pacing the presentation, so not too much information is divulged per slide
The leading inspirational platform, TEDx, comes to mind when talking about inspirational presentations. This presentation format has the peculiarity of maximizing the engagement with the audience to divulge a message, and due to that, it has specific requirements any presenter must meet.
This presentation format usually involves a speaker on a stage, either sitting or better standing, in which the presenter engages with the audience with a storytelling format about a life experience, a job done that provided a remarkable improvement for society, etc.
Empathizing with the audience is the key ingredient for these inspirational presentations. Still, creativity is what shapes the outcome of your performance as people are constantly looking for different experiences – not the same recipe rephrased with personal touches. The human factor is what matters here, way above data and research. What has your experience to offer to others? How can it motivate another human being to pursue a similar path or discover their true calling?
To achieve success in terms of communication skills presentation, these inspirational presentations have the following requirements:
- Focus on the audience (engage, consider their interests, and make them a part of your story)
- Putting ego aside
- Creative communication skills
- Storytelling skills
- Body language knowledge to apply the correct gestures to accompany your story
- Voice training
- Using powerful words
After discussing the different kinds of presentations we can come across at any stage of our lives, a group of presentation skills is standard in any type of presentation. See below what makes a good presentation and which skills you must count on to succeed as a presenter.
Punctuality is a crucial aspect of giving an effective presentation. Nothing says more about respect for your audience and the organization you represent than delivering the presentation on time . Arriving last minute puts pressure on the tech team behind audiovisuals, as they don’t have enough preparation to test microphones, stage lights, and projector settings, which can lead to a less powerful presentation Even when discussing presentations hosted in small rooms for a reduced audience, testing the equipment becomes essential for an effective presentation.
A solution for this is to arrive at least 30 minutes early. Ideally, one hour is a sweet spot since the AV crew has time to check the gear and requirements for your presentation. Another benefit of this, for example, in inspirational presentations, is measuring the previous presenter’s impact on the audience. This gives insights about how to resonate with the public, and their interest, and how to accommodate your presentation for maximum impact.
Our bodies can make emotions transparent for others, even when we are unaware of such a fact. Proper training for body language skills reduces performance anxiety, giving the audience a sense of expertise about the presented topic.
Give your presentation and the audience the respect they deserve by watching over these potential mistakes:
- Turning your back to the audience for extended periods : It’s okay to do so when introducing an important piece of information or explaining a graph, but it is considered rude to give your back to the audience constantly.
- Fidgeting : We are all nervous in the presence of strangers, even more, if we are the center of attention for that moment. Instead of playing with your hair or making weird hand gestures, take a deep breath to center yourself before the presentation and remember that everything you could do to prepare is already done. Trust your instincts and give your best.
- Intense eye contact : Have you watched a video where the presenter stared at the camera the entire time? That’s the feeling you transmit to spectators through intense eye contact. It’s a practice often used by politicians to persuade.
- Swearing : This is a no-brainer. Even when you see influencers swearing on camera or in podcasts or live presentations, it is considered an informal and lousy practice for business and academic situations. If you have a habit to break when it comes to this point, find the humor in these situations and replace your swear words with funny alternatives (if the presentation allows for it).
Voice Tone plays a crucial role in delivering effective presentations and knowing how to give a good presentation. Your voice is a powerful tool for exposing your ideas and feelings . Your voice can articulate the message you are telling, briefing the audience if you feel excited about what you are sharing or, in contrast, if you feel the presentation is a burden you ought to complete.
Remember, passion is a primary ingredient in convincing people. Therefore, transmitting such passion with a vibrant voice may help gather potential business partners’ interest.
But what if you feel sick prior to the presentation? If, by chance, your throat is sore minutes before setting foot on the stage, try this: when introducing yourself, mention that you are feeling a bit under the weather. This resonates with the audience to pay more attention to your efforts. In case you don’t feel comfortable about that, ask the organizers for a cup of tea, as it will settle your throat and relax your nerves.
Believe it or not, people still feel challenged by technology these days. Maybe that’s the reason why presentation giants like Tony Robbins opt not to use PowerPoint presentations . The reality is that there are plenty of elements involved in a presentation that can go wrong from the tech side:
- A PDF not opening
- Saving your presentation in a too-recent PowerPoint version
- A computer not booting up
- Mac laptops and their never-ending compatibility nightmare
- Not knowing how to change between slides
- Not knowing how to use a laser pointer
- Internet not working
- Audio not working
We can come up with a pretty long list of potential tech pitfalls, and yet more than half of them fall in presenters not being knowledgeable about technology.
If computers aren’t your thing, let the organization know about this beforehand. There is always a crew member available to help presenters switch between slides or configure the presentation for streaming. This takes the pressure off your shoulders, allowing you to concentrate on the content to present. Remember, even Bill Gates can get a BSOD during a presentation .
Presentations, while valuable for conveying information and ideas, can be daunting for many individuals. Here are some common difficulties people encounter when giving presentations:
Public Speaking Anxiety
Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, affects a significant portion of the population. This anxiety can lead to nervousness, trembling, and forgetfulness during a presentation.
Lack of Confidence
Many presenters struggle with self-doubt, fearing that they may not be knowledgeable or skilled enough to engage their audience effectively.
Organizing information in a coherent and engaging manner can be challenging. Presenters often grapple with how to structure their content to make it easily digestible for the audience.
Keeping the audience’s attention and interest throughout the presentation can be difficult. Distractions, disengaged attendees, or lack of interaction can pose challenges.
Technology glitches, such as malfunctioning equipment, incompatible file formats, or poor internet connectivity, can disrupt presentations and increase stress.
Striking the right balance between providing enough information and staying within time limits is a common challenge. Going over or under the allotted time can affect the effectiveness of the presentation.
Handling Questions and Challenges
Responding to unexpected questions, criticism, or challenges from the audience can be difficult, especially when presenters are unprepared or lack confidence in their subject matter.
Visual Aids and Technology
Creating and effectively using visual aids like slides or multimedia can be a struggle for some presenters. Technical competence is essential in this aspect.
Language and Articulation
Poor language skills or unclear articulation can hinder effective communication. Presenters may worry about stumbling over words or failing to convey their message clearly.
Maintaining appropriate and confident body language can be challenging. Avoiding nervous habits, maintaining eye contact, and using gestures effectively requires practice.
Overcoming Impersonal Delivery
In virtual presentations, maintaining a personal connection with the audience can be difficult. The absence of face-to-face interaction can make it challenging to engage and read the audience.
Cultural and Diversity Awareness
Presenting to diverse audiences requires sensitivity to cultural differences and varying levels of familiarity with the topic.
In this section, we gathered some tips on how to improve presentation skills that can certainly make an impact if applied to your presentation skills. We believe these skills can be cultivated to transform into habits for your work routine.
Tip #1: Build a narrative
One memorable way to guarantee presentation success is by writing a story of all the points you desire to cover. This statement is based on the logic behind storytelling and its power to connect with people .
Don’t waste time memorizing slides or reading your presentation to the audience. It feels unnatural, and any question that diverts from the topic in discussion certainly puts you in jeopardy or, worse, exposes you as a fraud in the eyes of the audience. And before you ask, it is really evident when a presenter has a memorized speech.
Build and rehearse the presentation as if telling a story to a group of interested people. Lower the language barrier by avoiding complex terms that maybe even you aren’t fully aware of their meaning. Consider the ramifications of that story, what it could lead to, and which are the opportunities to explore. Then, visualize yourself giving the presentation in a natural way.
Applying this technique makes the presentation feel like second nature to you. It broadens the spectrum in which you can show expertise over a topic or even build the basis for new interesting points of view about the project.
Tip #2: Don’t talk for more than 3 minutes per slide
It is a common practice of presenters to bombard the audience with facts and information whilst retaining the same slide on the screen. Why can this happen? It could be because the presenter condensed the talk into very few slides and preferred to talk. The reality is that your spectators won’t retain the information you are giving unless you give visual cues to help that process.
Opt to prepare more slides and pace your speech to match the topics shown on each slide. Don’t spend more than 3 minutes per slide unless you have to introduce a complex piece of data. Use visual cues to direct the spectators about what you talk about, and summarize the principal concepts discussed at the end of each section.
Tip #3: Practice meditation daily
Anxiety is the number one enemy of professional presenters. It slowly builds without you being aware of your doubts and can hinder your performance in multiple ways: making you feel paralyzed, fidgeting, making you forget language skills or concepts, affecting your health, etc.
Meditation is an ancient practice taken from Buddhist teachings that train your mind to be here in the present. We often see the concepts of meditation and mindfulness as synonyms, whereas you should be aware that meditation is a practice that sets the blocks to reach a state of mindfulness. For presenters, being in the here and now is essential to retain focus, but meditation techniques also teach us to control our breathing and be in touch with our body signals when stress builds up.
The customary practice of meditation has an impact on imagination and creativity but also helps to build patience – a skill much needed for connecting with your audience in instructional presentations.
Having the proper set of presentation skills can be quite subjective. It goes beyond presentation tips and deepens into how flexible we can be in our ability to communicate ideas.
Different presentations and different audiences shape the outcome of our efforts. Therefore, having a basic understanding of how to connect, raise awareness, and empathize with people can be key ingredients for your career as a presenter. A word of advice: success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes dedication and patience to build communication skills . Don’t condition your work to believe you will be ready “someday”; it’s best to practice and experience failure as part of the learning process.
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21 Ways To Improve Your Presentation Skills
Published: April 07, 2023
You know the feeling of sitting through a boring presentation. A text distracts you. A noise outside pulls your gaze. Your dog begs for attention. By the time the presentation ends, you question why you needed to sit and listen in the first place.
Effective presentation skills can stop you from boring an audience to oblivion. Delivering strong presentations can help you stand out as a leader, showcase your expertise, and build confidence.
Table of contents:
- Presentation skills definition
- Importance of presentation skills
- How to improve presentation skills
- Effective presentation skills
- Presentation skills for executives
Presentation Skills Definition
Presentation skills include anything you need to create and deliver clear, effective presentations to an audience. This includes creating a compelling set of slides , ensuring the information flows, and keeping your audience engaged.
Speakers with strong presentation skills can perform the following tasks:
- Bring together different sources of information to form a compelling narrative
- Hook audiences with a strong beginning and end
- Ensure audiences engage with their content through questions or surveys
- Understand what their audience wants and needs from their presentation
Importance of Presentation Skills
At some point in your career, you will present something. You might pitch a startup to a group of investors or show your research findings to your manager at work. Those in leading or executive roles often deliver presentations on a weekly or monthly basis.
Improving your presentation skills betters different aspects of your working life, including the following:
Communication: Improving your presentation skills can make you a better communicator with your co-workers and friends.
Confidence: 75% of people fear public speaking. By working on your presentation skills, you can gain confidence when speaking in front of a crowd.
Creativity: You learn to understand how to use imagery and examples to engage an audience.
Management: Presentations involve pulling together information to form a succinct summary, helping you build project and time management skills.
How To Improve Presentation Skills
1. create an outline.
Before designing slides and writing a script, outline your presentation. Start with your introduction, segue into key points you want to make, and finish with a conclusion.
2. Practice, Practice, Practice
Almost 8 in 10 professionals practice their presentations for at least an hour. So, practice your presentation in the mirror or to a close friend.
3. Start With a Hook
When presenting, grab your audience with a hook. Consider starting with a surprising statistic or a thoughtful question before diving into the core information.
4. Stay Focused on Your Topic
You might want to cover everything under the sun, but information overload can overwhelm your audience. Instead, stay focused on what you want to cover. Aim for key points and avoid including unnecessary details.
5. Remember To Introduce Yourself
At the beginning of the presentation, introduce yourself. Kill any tension in the room by mentioning your name, your role, and any other helpful details. You could even mention a fun fact about yourself, putting the audience at ease.
6. Work on Your Body Language
55% of people look to nonverbal communication when judging a presentation. Straighten your back, minimize unnecessary gestures, and keep your voice confident and calm. Remember to work on these aspects when practicing.
7. Memorize Structure, Not Words
You might feel better knowing exactly what you want to say. But skip the script and stick to memorizing the key points of your presentation. For example, consider picking three to four phrases or insights you want to mention for each part of your presentation rather than line-by-line memorization.
8. Learn Your Audience
Before crafting a killer outline and slide deck, research your audience. Find out what they likely already know, such as industry jargon, and where they might need additional information. Remember: You're presenting for them, not you.
9. Reframe Your Anxiety as Excitement
A study conducted by Harvard Business School demonstrates that reframing your anxiety as excitement can improve performance. For example, by saying simple phrases out loud, such as “I’m excited,” you then adopt an opportunity-oriented mentality.
10. Get Comfortable With the Setting
If you plan to present in person, explore the room. Find where you’re going to stand and deliver your presentation. Practice looking into the seats. By decreasing the number of unknowns, you can clear your head and focus on the job.
11. Get Familiar With Technology
Presenting online has unique challenges, such as microphone problems and background noise. Before a Zoom presentation, ensure your microphone works, clean up your background, test your slides, and consider any background noise.
12. Think Positively
Optimistic workers enjoy faster promotions and happier lives. By reminding yourself of the positives — for example, your manager found your last presentation impressive — you can shake off nerves and find joy in the process.
13. Tell a Story
To engage your audience, weave storytelling into your presentation — more than 5 in 10 people believe stories hold their focus during a presentation. Consider ways to connect different parts of your slides into a compelling narrative.
14. Prepare for Questions
At the end of your presentation, your audience will likely have questions. Brainstorm different questions and potential answers so you’re prepared.
15. Maintain Eye Contact
Eye contact signals honesty. When possible, maintain eye contact with your audience. For in-person presentations, pay attention to each audience member. For online ones, stare at your camera lens as you deliver.
16. Condense Your Presentation
After you finish the first draft of your outline, think about ways to condense it. Short and sweet often keeps people interested instead of checking their phones.
17. Use Videos
Keep your audience’s attention by incorporating video clips when relevant. For example, videos can help demonstrate examples or explain difficult concepts.
18. Engage With Your Audience
Almost 8 in 10 professionals view presentations as boring. Turn the tide by engaging with your audience. Encourage audience participation by asking questions or conducting a live survey.
19. Present Slowly and Pause Frequently
When you get nervous, you talk faster. To combat this, remember to slow yourself down when practicing. Place deep pauses throughout your presentation, especially when transitioning between slides, as it gives you time to breathe and your audience time to absorb.
20. Start and End With a Summary
A summary at the start of a presentation can pique your audience’s interest. One at the end brings everything together, highlighting key points your audience should take with them.
21. Ask for Feedback
You will never deliver the perfect presentation, so ask for feedback. Talk to your managers about where you could improve. Consider surveying your audience for an unbiased look into your presentation skills.
Effective Presentation Skills
Effective presentation skills include communicating clearly, presenting with structure, and engaging with the audience.
As an example, say a content manager is presenting a quarterly review to their team. They start off with a summary. Their introduction mentions an unprecedented 233% growth in organic traffic — numbers their team has not seen in years. Immediately, the presenter grabs their team’s attention. Now, everyone wants to know how they achieved that in one quarter.
Alternatively, think of an entrepreneur delivering their pitch to a group of investors. They start with a question: How many of you struggle to stay awake at work? They then segue into an exciting product designed to improve the sleep quality of working professionals. Their presentation includes videos demonstrating the science behind sleep and surprising statistics about the demand for their product.
Both examples demonstrate effective presentation skills. They incorporate strong attention grabbers, summaries, and attempts to engage the audience.
Think back to strong presentations you viewed as an audience member. Ask yourself: What made them so memorable, and how can I incorporate those elements into my presentations?
Presentation Skills for Executives
Presentations take up a significant portion of an executive’s workload. Executives regularly showcase key company initiatives, team changes, quarterly and annual reviews, and more. Improving your presentation skills as a leader can help with different parts of your job, such as:
Trust: Delivering great, effective presentations can build trust between you and your team.
Confidence: Most people dread presentations — so a strong presenter projects the confidence needed by a leader.
Emotional intelligence: A great presentation taps into the audience’s perspectives, helping executives improve their emotional intelligence .
Expertise: Presentations help executives display their subject-matter expertise, making employees safe in their hands.
Delegation: At times, executives might need to pull information from different sources for a presentation — improving their ability to delegate as managers.
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Most Important Presentation Skills (With Examples)
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Presentation skills are important to your professional and personal life. Effective presentation skills can help you get ahead in your career. With the proper presentation skills, you’ll open up new doors for professional growth and be a more confident individual overall.
Whether you want to know the different types of presentation skills or improve your presentation skills, we’ll cover what presentation skills are, how to improve your ability to present, and showcase your new skills.
Presentation skills are important in the workplace because they can be used for meetings, interviews, and conferences.
Some presentation skills examples include research, organization, and adaptability
Practice as much as possible before a presentation so that it becomes muscle memory, however, to engage the audience, be flexible with your presentation’s performance.
Good presentations are informative, engaging, and precise.
Different types of presentation skills
How to improve your presentation skills, examples of using presentation skills, presentation skills faq, final thoughts.
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Being a skilled presenter requires a constellation of hard and soft skills . Some different types of presentation skills include research, planning, and organization.
Below are more common types of presentation skills. As you read through this list, think about where you’re naturally strong and where you could do with some improvement:
Research. The first step of any successful presentation is the research and preparation phase. First and foremost, you have to become an expert on the content you hope to deliver. It’s also essential to research your audience to know which information is most pertinent for them.
Planning. Once you’ve completed your research, it’s time to develop a plan. During this phase, you’ll prioritize which information gets put front-and-center, and which is less vital for your ultimate goal.
Before you start drafting your presentation, it’s crucial to keep your goal at the forefront: what do you want the audience to do after listening to your presentation?
Organization . Audiences prefer presentations that are well-thought-out and delivered in a logical order. Before you even step foot in the room, you should know what you need to do to set up, have all your notes in order, and be aware of your allotted time.
Verbal communication. No surprises here, verbal communication skills are downright essential for an effective presentation. Even if you have very rigid notes to follow, being quick on your feet to answer questions or alter your content for the audience’s benefit will serve you well during presentations.
Nonverbal communication . Good body language means standing up straight, not fidgeting too much, and maintaining eye contact with your audience members.
Public speaking . Some people get nervous just thinking about speaking publicly. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is crucial to keep your nerves under wraps for delivering the most effective presentation possible. Audiences are less likely to trust presenters who don’t appear confident.
Memorization. We’ve all seen presentations where the presenter is just reading directly off his Powerpoint slides – we don’t need to tell you that those presentations are unequivocally bad. It’s fine to have notes as a reference, but the more time you can spend looking at your audience rather than the sheet in front of you, the better.
Writing. Being a good writer will help keep your presentation organized and give a boost to your credibility. Before you can commit your content to memory, you need to develop that content.
Story-telling. Not all presentations require story-telling, but it can be a very effective method of grabbing your listeners’ attention. It can be a hypothetical story that presents a question or problem, a real story that leads into your main argument, or a story that continues throughout to illustrate the duller facts your presentation covers.
Rhetorical skills . Rhetoric is all about persuasion: how are your words going to induce action from the listener(s)? Rhetorical appeals are classified under three headings: ethos, logos, and pathos.
Ethos establishes credibility in the speaker and trust in the listeners through confident delivery and expert testimony. Logos covers your presentation’s logical thrust through statistics, models, comparisons, analogies, etc. Pathos is your presentation’s emotional appeal, supported by vivid language and stories that promote certain values.
Active listening . Pay attention to which parts of your presentation are grabbing listeners and which are falling flat. If your audience’s eyes start glazing over or phones start coming out, you know you’re losing them.
Adaptability . Like the above point, being able to adapt on the fly sets top-tier presenters apart from merely good ones. For instance, if you can tell your presentation isn’t working, you can open up the floor and ask questions as a way of determining your audience’s priorities.
Delivery. We bet you’ve heard some of the same Dad jokes multiple times in your life. Sometimes they’re hilarious, and sometimes they induce an eye-roll. The difference? Delivery. Pace, timing, tone, and enunciation/inflection are all important elements of good delivery.
Technical skills . All right, you’re all set with the perfect presentation, you walk into the room, and the A/V setup isn’t what you were expecting. Well, if you followed our advice above, you showed up a bit early and had time to fix it.
Analysis . Phew, your presentation is done. Time to forget about presenting until the next one comes up, right? No siree – now is the time for you to take a step back and evaluate your performance.
To improve your presentation skills, you should watch and learn what works and doesn’t work from others and practice with an audience of friends. Here are more ways to improve your presentation skills:
Watch and learn. You’ve seen presentations before, but to prepare for your own, try watching presentations to learn what works and what doesn’t. If you’re presenting at a conference, attend other presentations and pay attention to how the audience responds. Your audience probably won’t be much different.
Practice. Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. Rehearse what you want to say, either on your own or with an audience of friends. You can even record yourself speaking and pinpoint weak areas and strengths . The more you perform your presentation, the more comfortable you’ll be delivering the real thing.
Visualize success. What speakers often forget is that audiences want you to do well. They’re there (more or less) of their own volition, and they want to hear what you have to say. Take that nervousness you’re feeling and transform it into excitement.
Exercise/drink water beforehand. The human body responds to stressful situations with a whole host of unwelcome physical side effects. If you stay hydrated and get some light exercise in beforehand, you’ll flush the adrenaline and cortisol (stress hormones) right out of your body.
Adopt a power stance and smile. Just as exercise and hydration help keep your body regulated, so does powerful body language . Standing straight with shoulders squared and a smile on your face, and your body will be tricked into thinking you’re in a confident and commanding position.
Engage your audience. The best presenters are also first-class entertainers. Don’t go overboard and start practicing your comedy routine, but lightening the mood with a joke or two can go a long way. Be sure to greet your audience enthusiastically.
Don’t get defensive if you’re stumped. There might be moments when an audience member asks a question, and you don’t have an answer . Don’t try to equivocate or dodge the question because people will see what you’re doing. It’s okay not to know everything, but pretending you do will only deteriorate your listeners’ faith in you.
Keep it concise. People won’t be upset if you wrap up earlier than expected, but they might be a little peeved if you start running over your allotted time. Cut irrelevant information, and your audience will thank you .
Take your time. All right, so we just suggested keeping things short, and now we’re telling you to take your time. What gives? Well, you should always include a bit of padding in your presentation. For example, if your presentation is meant to be a half-hour, try to get it down to 25 minutes, so you have some wiggle room.
Presentation skills cover a range of abilities that allow one to effectively engage their audience and get information across in a clear way. In today’s world, the persuasive power of presentations is more important than ever.
There are many different example scenarios in which you might give a presentation:
Delivering a presentation to colleagues, employees, or subordinates about new technology, processes, goals, etc.
Drumming up investor interest, either for a new business or for your current business’s expansion.
Teaching your team a new skill.
Deciding between two or more alternative options or solving a problem with a current system.
Selling a product or service to a client.
Interviewing for a new job or promotion
Saying goodbye to a colleague (or introducing a new one )
Giving a speech at a family function, like a wedding.
What are the four types of presentation?
The four types of presentation are: informative, instructional, arousing, and persuasive. Informative presentations briefly educate your audience on a specific topic. Instructional presentations teach your audience more thoroughly and generally come with more details and/or directions.
Arousing presentations are meant to evoke some kind of emotion in the audience. Persuasive presentations are designed to convince the audience of a particular viewpoint.
What are the four P’s of presentation?
The four P’s of presentation are planning, preparation, practice, and performance. As the four P’s imply, you need to plan and prepare your presentation, as well as practice. Finally, you need to be aware of your performance during your presentation to make sure you use your skills in an engaging manner.
What is the 10-20-30 rule of presentation?
The 10-20-30 rule is for a slide presentation and means you should use no more than 10 slides, present no longer than 20 minutes, and use no less than 30-point font. Considering these factors helps make a presentation efficient with its time. Remember you want to take your time and be direct with your information. Using the 10-20-30 rule helps you find a balance between these needs.
What is the most important part of using presentation skills?
An important part of using presentation skills would be speaking the language of the audience. Knowing your audience helps you get your point across. To help speak the language of the audience, you can use appropriate analogies and anecdotes and avoid any foreign words.
For example, if you are presenting a topic to a group of college freshmen about a topic you’re an expert in, try to use language that they would understand. Using language the audience will understand helps you get your point across better.
Whether you’re a natural showman or a super-shy introvert , keep the above tips in mind to improve your presentation skills. Because the chances are, you’ll have to give a presentation at some point in your life. With a little practice, you’ll have audiences clamoring for more.
Johns Hopkins Carey Business School – Presentation Skills
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Matthew Zane is the lead editor of Zippia's How To Get A Job Guides. He is a teacher, writer, and world-traveler that wants to help people at every stage of the career life cycle. He completed his masters in American Literature from Trinity College Dublin and BA in English from the University of Connecticut.
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Home » Blog » Trainers » 7 Essential Presentation Skills Examples, Techniques & Tips for Freelance Trainers
7 Essential Presentation Skills Examples, Techniques & Tips for Freelance Trainers
Page Updated on February 8, 2023
With some very simple and basic but essential tips, you can quite quickly learn effective presentation skills and become a more effective trainer or teacher. So in this post, here are 7 tips for you that you can use, whether you are a freelance or corporate trainer, teacher, someone doing a presentation at work, or a student learning to do presentations. These tips should help you all!
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Taken from our >> ‘ Online Train the Trainer Course ‘.
Tip 1: Body Language (Face and Hands)
One of the first things to consider when presenting is to think about how you use your face and hands.
Always make eye contact and look at all of your participants . Do not stare at them but do make an effort to appear to speak to each and every person present.
If the venue is big and the number of attendees numerous (let’s say more than 20) then at least look or glance at each section of people from time to time.
A word of warning though! In some cultures, it is considered rude or aggressive to look someone in the eye . So do factor in the culture and audience to whom you are speaking or teaching, and adapt accordingly.
KEY TIP : Make a point to sometimes speak and do gestures (positive ones of course) to those sitting the furthest from you to make them feel included.
Do also remember to use facial expressions that are congruent with your words. In other words, what you say should match your facial expression so as to avoid confusion. If you are saying something exciting try and look excited by it, for example.
Avoid : No playing with markers, touching your head, or crossing your arms; no hands in pockets unless it is to show informality and relaxation! A great way to avoid these things is to record yourself at home with any camera (a cellphone will do) and practice presenting. You will soon see the habits you have!
Tip 2: Posture and Body Language When Presenting
If you want to make the right impression with your students or whoever you are presenting to, it is important to maintain good posture .
Good posture also helps to project the voice better , in addition to making you look more confident.
If you wish to, you can also highlight a new section in the presentation by changing your posture or position. Opening up your shoulders and arms, for example, could be used to express the idea of something starting.
KEY TIP: The key from our experience is that it often simply comes down to practice! The more times you run through your speech or lesson, the smoother and more fluent you will become. The TRUTH is that most great speakers are only the best because they practice and practice. It is that simple. With this in mind, avoid continuously reading off a piece of paper or script.
Tip 3: Positioning Your Body When Presenting
Body language is also important and given that most eyes will be on you, as the trainer at the front of the room, any unusual actions you do will of course easily be noticed and can distract your audience from focusing on the content that you are delivering.
So, when standing at the front of the room, plant your feet and do not shift your weight, and avoid pacing back and forth on the same spot.
Also, be aware that sitting changes the tone and makes the atmosphere informal. If teaching or presenting to a small group of people (i.e. everyone can easily see you if you are sitting down), you might want to use sitting down as a strategy for mixing the formal with informal.
Never have your back to the group (or as little as possible if you are writing on a board).
Tip 4: Voice – Volume, Pitch, and Pauses
I was in at a conference recently and a well-renowned academic was presenting in front of 100+ people and, despite being in the front row, it was impossible to make out what he was saying.
Make sure when presenting to project your voice ! Also, change the volume and pitch of your voice to add emphasis! If you need to, just ask the people at the back of the venue if they can hear you okay?
KEY TIP : Also learn to use pauses to emphasize something important. Furthermore, pauses are also useful to give time to reflect and for you to observe participants. Do not be afraid of silence!
Tip 5: Fillers and Elocution
One of the things that most of us do when first learning how to give effective presentations, is to use fillers!
Fillers are the words we unconsciously use to try and fill in between the things we are meant to say. Common fillers include ‘ah’, ‘err’, ‘ok’, ‘like’, ‘er’, ‘um’, and ‘right then’.
We all use fillers and trying to avoid using them is not easy at first.
To learn to stop using fillers the best way is the tip I gave earlier and which is to record yourself speaking and play it back. Just grab your iPhone and use the camera on the phone, for example, and record a 3-minute speech (it doesn’t matter what you speak about or how you look). Then play the video back and see what fillers you used when speaking. Keep practicing and you will begin to avoid fillers very quickly.
Finally, do not rush the end of sentences, and do not be afraid to use an informal voice. You want to sound professional of course, but you also want to speak in a way that is friendly and warm.
Tip 6: Making Use of Space in the Training Room or Classroom
Think carefully also about the space that you have available to you in the training room or classroom.
It can be a great idea to move around among participants . Move around the room looking first at a group, then another group. Do not neglect any section of the room.
Also, never sit behind a desk (unless used temporarily and as part of an intentional informal act). You might, for example, want to sit down whilst your participants are doing an activity or task that you have set them.
Or you might sit to emphasize something. Generally speaking though, for the most part, you should be standing when presenting. Also, stand close to the class unless you are using the board a lot.
Tip 7: Extra Presentation Skills Ideas
Let’s finish with four final tips.
It can be difficult when teaching or providing training to find the balance between providing enough explanation and information and giving too much.
Do not though, go on and on about something and be too repetitive. You can lose the attention of your audience if you do this too much.
Be Careful with Jargon
You will also want to be careful with the jargon you use (or what is known as ‘discourse’ in academia). In different social and cultural circles, we have different ways of speaking in terms of terminology. Even between the UK and the United States, for example, our ways of speaking are different. Differences can include:
- soccer (USA) = football (UK)
- pants (USA) = trousers (UK)
- gasoline (USA = petrol (UK)
The key is to make sure you are speaking with your audience in mind . Know who your audience is and tailor your speech, if necessary, for them.
The best presenters are the best really because of one key reason. They practice and they learn to be great presenters.
That really is the secret! Having interviewed hundreds of presenters, the idea of practicing to improve and become a good presenter was always mentioned as the key tip to presenting well.
Certainly, a few people (the lucky ones) are born with a natural ability just to be brilliant presenters.
The majority though become proficient through practice.
Watching Great Presenters
It can also be worth watching some TED talks to get a feel for what great presenting looks like.
When watching these presentations, observe the pauses at key moments, the way they move or do not move around the stage, the change of intonation for emphasis, the way they use their hands or not, and their facial expressions. And what do they do wrong that you don’t like? Try these two videos:
- Tyler DeWitt : Hey science teachers. Make it fun!
- Nadia Lopez : Open a school to close a prison!
If you are not actually that interested in the topic you are teaching or presenting, TRY TO FIND something about it interesting and show enthusiasm.
If you really can find nothing to be enthusiastic about in terms of what you are teaching, then looking for a new job might be the best option here. Otherwise, be cheerful and you will find that this alone can help you win over those sitting in front of you as you speak. Smiling and being happy can be infectious!
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Explanation is simple and clear. Very useful tips.
This analysis is outstanding ,thank you
Thank you, great post. I have learned a lot about presentation skills. Thank you.
The post is great… I have learnt alot as a teacher student in Kenya
Helped me a lot! Thank you.
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