How to deliver an effective presentation that moves people to action
Public speaking is one of the top fears for most people, but to move up in a business career and advance in the corporate world, most people have to make presentations from time to time. And the more skilled one is at delivering these presentations, the more opportunities there are to grow.
There are certain skills that, when stacked on top of others, have the ability to supercharge results and turn employees into more valuable assets, business partners and/or clients. Public speaking is one of them. Whether the industry is marketing, sales, customer service or logistics, public speaking will amplify anyone’s value in the open marketplace, and it’s well worth perfecting the means to do it well. Here are extremely simple yet valuable tips to that end.
The slide rule
Guy Kawaski was one of the early Apple employees responsible for marketing the original Mac computer line back in 1984. He’s now one of the leading entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in Silicon Valley. In other words, he has given a lot of presentations. Very early on he discovered that one of the keys to giving an effective and persuasive presentation is to follow something he coined the “10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.”
The 10/20/30 Rule states that a presentation should have just ten slides, last no more than 20 minutes, and contain fonts no smaller than 30 points. The idea here is that the speaker is forced to be succinct and articulate: if an idea can’t be communicated within these parameters, it’s probably not ready to be presented.
The biggest challenge for most people is working with just ten slides, but when this aspect of the equation is mastered it necessitates getting very specific with the idea and cutting out all of the fluff.
Dressing to impress
Whether presenting in-person or virtually via Zoom or Facebook Live, what a speaker wears says a lot about them. In fact, their visual appearance can set the tone for the rest of the presentation. If they look professional and put-together, it automatically gives more credence to what they’re about to say.
Every presentation will require its own specific “dress code,” but it’s always worth erring on the side of professionalism. A suit might not be necessary in certain situations, but owning a nice wardrobe of dress shirts will ensure there’s always have something sleek to wear.
When one is nervous, the voice tends to get higher pitched and the pace accelerates. When speaking under pressure, it can help to slow down and speak in lower tones. Pauses are perfectly fine (and can be used to accentuate key points and/or draw the audience in). Recording presentations is useful, so that speakers can learn from what they see and pay attention to areas where greater voice control might have benefited the effect. With this information it’s easier to practise for future events.
While the voice and words are important, the rest of the body also has a lot to say. It’s possible to say exactly same thing, with two different gestures communicate two totally different ideas. Here are some useful tips:
Keeping the arms open and moving freely allows the speaker to come across as more transparent and trustworthy (versus having arms crossed).
When trying to get an audience to agree with something, gesturing with the palms up will help. When trying to direct or state something matter-of-factly, the palms should go down.
It’s worth becoming aware of the individual ways one fidgets and avoid those nervous habits (like pacing back and forth or rocking on the heels).
It’s always a good idea to smile and use facial expressions to avoid coming across as robotic.
Experts say that mastering your body language takes time and practice. But, little by little, it’s possible to learn how to control one’s hands, posture and gestures in ways that aid the words and turn them into a more powerful presentation.
Setting up for success
Learning how to master the art of public speaking gives a unique career advantage, with the means to take an employee from passive member of the business to influential advocate with the ability to communicate and persuade at a high level. The tips outlined above should help improve presentation skills and aid progression to being a more valuable professional in the open marketplace.
The editorial unit