Whether it is public speaking, team briefing or formal presenting, standing up in front of others is often cited as one of the most difficult things that a manager has to do.
However, many of these difficulties can be overcome by following some simple guidelines. Using the tips below will help you to develop your confidence and deliver more memorable presentations.
- Before making a presentation or briefing try to understand as much about your audience as possible.For example, what is their knowledge of the topic, what is their background, what will they be expecting?Once understood, determine the approach you will take (what information to provide, what questions the presentation should answer, what tone should be adopted etc.).
- Prepare an outline of your presentation by writing down all of the key points and in what order they should be presented. For example:
- What is the purpose of the communication?
- How can you impart the information clearly and concisely?
- What supporting ideas and facts are needed?
- Think about how you can illustrate key points of your presentation with real life examples that your audience will understand.
- Think about how you will voice your opinions clearly and assertively. Avoid phrases like ‘it seems to me’ or ‘it is likely that’.Use strong, ‘punchy’ verbs.
- Remember the 5 Ps rule…preparation and practice prevents poor performance.Make a video of yourself to check whether you use appropriate expressions and gestures and identify any annoying habits you may have (e.g. continually taking your glasses on and off).
- A barrier to effective communication can often be the use of inappropriate language or jargon.Examine your presentation, could it be understood by anyone?
- Learn to read the reaction from the audience. What is their body language telling you? Are they attentive throughout, do any look bored?Change tack to gain their attention.For example by asking them questions.
- Finally, the best way to improve your presentations and develop confidence is through practice.
- Seek out opportunities that require you to make presentations to small groups.
- Volunteer for membership of committees or teams outside of your organisation.
Ultimately, practise makes perfect. The more you practice your golf swing or tennis serve, the more confident and skilled you will become. The same applies to presentations, therefore try to find as many opportunities as you can to give presentation/briefings/speeches both at work and outside work with community or service groups.