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5 Ways to improve your presentation skills dramatically

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Some of the greatest business leaders were also captivating lecturers. Whether you like it or not, presentation skills are essential for any kind of enterprise. Whether you’re trying to sell a product, get a new investor, or secure financing, knowing how to move your audience is essential if you want to succeed. In this article, we’re going to give you a few simple tips to significantly improve your presentation skills.

Know your audience

Knowing your audience to the last detail is essential if you want to mold your message to their interests and needs. This way, you’ll be better able to demonstrate how your solution is best suited for their business or situation.

One of the ways you could gather information on your audience before the event would be to send out a survey to some of the people that will be there. If for some reason you cannot get your attendees’ opinions beforehand, you can always talk to them at the presentation or even speak to them directly while you’re presenting and ask them exactly what they’re interested in so that you can adapt your presentation accordingly.

Use the proper structure

Structure is also very important for any presentation. The classic format of most presentations is pretty simple. First, you start by telling them what they will learn, present, and conclude by recapitulating what they’ve just learned.

What you should do is start with the exact benefits of what you’re going to explain and how it can benefit the audience. Then you can move on to the presentation and close with a review of what was presented.

When opening your presentation, you should try to find a way to connect with your audience. This could be by creating a story with a fictitious character who represents your average user.  Or you could start with a question, personal story or with a shocking statistic.

However, don’t spend the first five minutes thanking your audience or trying to rile them up by overselling. This is the best way to lose them and come off as snake oil salesman, which is the last thing you want. You want to empathize with their problems and present your services or products as a genuine solution. If you want to learn how to really connect with your audience, you could also take presentation skills training. If you’re looking for presentation skills training online, you can review options on findcourses.com.

When it comes to the body of your presentation, you should try to stick to three major points at most. The goal should be to connect with your audience more than trying to showcase your talents and knowledge. Some information will eventually have to be left out but will probably be addressed when you’ll be answering questions at the end.

With every presentation, you should have a clear outcome in mind. There is no need to write your complete presentation word for word or memorize it if you remember to stick to your main points and work towards your outcome. You also have to make sure that you can address issues from more than one perspective. An ability to acknowledge what your competition is doing or opposing arguments will make you look more credible. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to spell out what your product or service does better or make a stronger argument.

How you close your presentation is essential as well. This will be your last chance to make a lasting impression with your audience and give them something that will stick with them. You can refer back to the character in your introduction or end with a call to action or slogan. If you do decide to make a business proposal, make sure that you conclude with a positive forecast. This will only solidify the subconscious optimism you’ve generated with your presentation.

Practice, but don’t memorize

While everybody is different, if you only practice your presentation a handful of times, you won’t be thoroughly prepared. The more practice you get, the more natural you’ll be, and you’ll reduce the chance of skipping important parts. You also won’t be easily derailed.

It’s always better to start practicing at least one month in advance if you want best results. You could use your family as an audience, talk to a wall or speak in the mirror. You could also join your local toastmaster chapter and get some practice. And consider videotaping yourself to see how you come across. Whatever you do, make sure that you get the chance the practice out loud so that you can get a sense of timing.

But in all cases, try not to memorize your speech to the letter. Doing so will make you come across as over-trained and robotic. While some presenters are also great actors and can act genuine even if they’re repeating memorized lines, looking too polished will make you look impersonal and inaccessible to your audience. At the end of the day, you’re speaking with humans, and you could end up hindering the rapport building process or even alienating your audience completely.

Change your mindset

Nervousness is also something that needs to be addressed before any presentation. One of the things you could do to calm your nerves is change your internal dialogue. For instance, instead of calling the event a presentation every time you think about it, you could use the word “conversation” instead.

You could also condition yourself to be in front of a large audience. One particular presenter said that he liked to go to crowded theaters and go to the front of the stage and pretend that he’s looking for somebody. Then he would stand there facing the audience and visualize how it would be to give a lecture. This step alone has allowed him to quell some of his fears about public presentations.

Also, make sure that you take a few days off before the presentation to relax. This is not the time to start making modifications or restructuring your speech. Take these few days for yourself so you can clear your mind before the event.

Prepare for the questions round

Most presentations will end with a questions round, and you shouldn’t overlook it when preparing for yours. One great way to prepare for questions is to ask a few clients what questions they might have regarding your presentation. This will allow you to prepare a list of possible questions and prepare yourself mentally to answer them.

You should also take questions right before the end of the presentation and not end with them. Why? Because you want to be able to end the presentation with your own message. You don’t want your presentation to end on some random question that someone may have asked that is completely off topic. The conclusion is one of the most important parts of your presentation, so asking for questions before it allows you to have full control on the impression you’ll leave your audience with.

Getting by in this day and age without the proper presentation skills is almost impossible. If you want to take your skills as a presenter to the next level, these tips should be more than enough to get you started on the right direction.

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