By George_Carey

Work focus: presentation tips

Brenda hoped if she smiled nicely no one would notice her graphs were complete nonsense

Got an important presentation to do? Follow our top tips and you’ll ace it…

Make eye contact: One of the most powerful ways of engaging your audience and ensuring that you have their full attention is to make eye contact with the people you are addressing – don’t just hone in on one person though, make sure everybody is part of the conversation by looking around the room and addressing everybody.

Be yourself: Don’t be afraid to inject a bit of your own personality and sense of humour to the presentation (if appropriate). This will make what you have to say more memorable and will also make you appear more approachable, encouraging the audience to ask questions and become better engaged with the topic.

Practice makes perfect: If you’re worried that your nerves will get the better of you, the only way to truly combat this is to prepare thoroughly. Make bullet-point notes on cards for each slide and memorise them. It’s best to remember key prompts rather than the whole speech word-for-word as this could result in you sounding unnatural and robot-like. Also, if your presentation is too regimented, when somebody interrupts you with a question it could throw you off and cause you to lose your place.

Keep your slides simple: Obviously this is easier said than done depending on the topic you are covering, but if possible, keep the jargon and statistics down to a minimum. Instead, highlight key figures or facts and hold back the finer details – these may not be relevant to everybody and anyone who would like more information can always ask you to elaborate. It also means you have some material reserved for the questions at the end.

Don’t hide: Move around and gesticulate when you talk rather than standing behind the lectern hiding – it will make your words have more impact and can also help you to relax. Don’t move too much though as it can be distracting – imagine you are recalling an interesting story to a friend and think about how you might use hand gestures as you talk.

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