Standing up and talking to a roomful of strangers is enough to scare the pants off most people. But being a good presenter is a key communications skill for any marketing professional. At Pelican we have our own in-house training and presentation skills expert Cheryl Bennett. Here are Cheryl’s ten killer tips for becoming a great presenter.
1. WIIFM? When writing your presentation use WIIFM (what?s in it for me) to guide you. See it from the audience’s perspective and ask yourself, why should they listen? If you have nothing compelling to say, maybe you shouldn?t speak.
2. As the Scouts say ‘Be Prepared’. If you prepare well in advance, this gives you time to tailor your keynote to your audience and most importantly gives you time to learn and prepare your talk.
3. Less is more. If you’re using PowerPoint or Prezi, keep your slides short and simple. One picture is much more effective than a slide full of words. If you put words up on a screen, your audience will start to read them rather than listen to you.
4. Do a run through. When you feel confident present to a colleague or friend and get them to give you honest feedback. What you think is simple may be really complicated to a first time viewer. Use the feedback to simplify, polish and improve your talk.
5. Arrive early, really early. Arriving early gives you a chance to get the feel of the room. Make sure your presentation works on AV equipment provided or that your laptop links with the room’s projector. There’s nothing worse than fumbling with the technology when people are waiting for you to speak. If you’re relaxed you’ll be more likely to speak effectively.
6. We know you can read. This one is a no brainer, but somehow PowerPoint makes people think they can get away with it. By all means refer to your notes. But if all you’re going to do is read, you may as well send the audience a copy of your presentation and save yourself the trip.
7. Slow Down. Nervous and inexperienced speakers tend to talk way too fast. Consciously slow your speech down and add pauses for emphasis.
8. Eye Contact. Do like Edwin Starr did and make eye to eye contact with the audience. Look round the room during your talk so that everyone feels included. Don’t focus on one person, even if they are a friendly face it may feel a bit creepy for that person.
9. ‘That’s a Good Question.’ You can use statements like, ‘that’s a really good question,’ or ‘I’m glad you asked me that,’ to buy yourself a few moments to organize your response. Will the other people in the audience know you are using these filler sentences to reorder your thoughts? Probably not. And even if they do, it still makes speech flow smoothly, rather than ums and ahs littering your answer.
10. Have Fun. Sounds impossible? With a little practice you can inject your passion for a subject into your keynote. Once you’ve got into the groove you’ll find yourself enjoying the experience. True, there will always be a bit of nerves but you need the adrenalin to be a good presenter.