Effective communication is key to success in any field, and presentations are no exception. If you’re looking to improve your presentation skills, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll be sharing 21 of the best tips to help you deliver speeches and presentations that are clear, engaging and memorable. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced speaker, these tips will help you take your skills to the next level. From preparation to delivery and beyond, we’ll cover everything you need to know to become a confident and effective presenter.
#1. Tailor Your Presentation to Your Audience
Being able to understand your audience inside out is one of the first presentation skills you need to have. In order to deliver a successful presentation, you should research the demographics of your audience, such as their age, occupation, and level of expertise in the subject matter.
For example, if your audience is mostly made up of industry experts, you can use more technical language and dive deeper into the details of your topic.
Additionally, you should consider the purpose of the presentation and tailor your message accordingly. If the presentation is meant to inform the audience about a new product, you should focus on the features and benefits of that product.
By tailoring your presentation to the needs and interests of your audience, you will be able to connect with them better, and they will be more likely to engage with your message and take the desired action.
#2. Practice Your Delivery and Timing
Before your presentation, it is a good idea to rehearse and practice your delivery. Doing so will help you feel more confident and in control during the actual presentation.
You can practice on your own in front of a mirror or a group of friends. Time yourself to ensure that you stay within the allotted time for the presentation. Throw yourself a few curveballs during the presentation to get yourself ready to improvise things on the fly — such as skipping past a slide of you’re low on time.
This way, you’ll be able to deliver your presentation in a confident and controlled banner within the allotted time.
#3. Be Well-prepared and Organised
Adequate preparation is key for handling questions and unexpected situations that may arise. Being prepared helps you stay calm and in control, which makes you appear responsible and professional. It will also help to ensure that your message is effectively conveyed.
Some of the ways you can be more prepared include being familiar with your material and the points you want to make, anticipating questions that the audience may have and preparing your answers in advance, bringing backups such as extra physical handouts or copies of your slides as well as keeping your materials organised and easily accessible.
#4. Have a Clear and Consistent Structure
When designing your presentation slides, having a clear and consistent structure is important to keep the audience engaged and ensure that your message is effectively conveyed. A good structure will organise your ideas and make it easy for the audience to follow.
Ensure your presentation has a clear introduction, body and conclusion to set the stage. Be very sure about the main points and key takeaways you want to communicate to your audience. Ensure your presentation is easy to follow by using clear headings and sub-headings to organise your information as well as ensure you have a consistent layout in terms of colours and imagery throughout your slides.
#5. Use Multimedia to Enhance Your Presentation
Multimedia is an effective tool in a presenter’s arsenal to keep an audience engaged. They can help simplify complex information whilst adding variety and making the presentation more memorable.
One of the key presentation skills to develop is knowing how and when to add multimedia to aid your presentation without distracting your audience. Some effective ways to utilise multimedia in a presentation include using videos or animations to demonstrate a process or show a product in action. You can also try using live polls, quizzes and other interactive elements to encourage audience participation.
Using multimedia to supplement your presentation can make it more engaging, interactive and memorable for your audience. However, use them sparingly and avoid adding too many as it can be overwhelming and distract from the message of your presentation.
#6. Support with Examples and Case Studies
Examples and case studies are an effective way to support your points and make them more engaging to the audience. Examples help to illustrate the concepts and make them more tangible, while case studies provide real-world examples that the audience can relate to.
Back up your messages with real-world case studies and statistics can help make your argument more convincing. By using concrete evidence to support your argument, you’ll be seen as a more credible presenter.
#7. Use Visual Aids to Simplify Ideas
Visual aids are an effective way to explain complex ideas and make them more understandable for an audience. One of the key presentation skills you should develop is understanding which of your talking points are best presented as visuals, and which should remain as text.
Some of the best ways to use visuals effectively include:
- Charts and graphs to show data or statistics in an easy-to-visualise format
- Infographics to present multiple data or talking points in an easy-to-digest format
- Diagrams or illustrations to explain processes or how something works
#8. Use Effective Transitions Between Slides
Slide transitions are an underrated way to add a bit of flourish to a presentation. Many presenters don’t put a lot of thought into their transitions, but when used effectively, transitions can help keep the flow of information clear and consistent.
Transitions don’t have to be limited to PowerPoint effects. Here are some creative ways to utilise transitions in your slides and develop your presentation skills:
- Interactive transitions such as clickable buttons
- Transitional phrases or sentences to guide audiences from one slide to the next
Whatever transition you choose to use, be sure you use them consistently throughout your slides to ensure a sense of continuity and professionalism. You should also ensure that your transitions are appropriate for the type of presentation you are doing, such as a simple fade transition for a formal presentation.
#9. Prepare a Strong Closing Argument
Your closing statement is arguably the part of your presentation that audiences are most likely to remember. That’s why having a strong closing argument that summarises the main points of your presentation is crucial to leaving a lasting impression on the audience.
There are a number of presentation skills and techniques you can use to help people to understand and remember your key takeaways. They include:
- A final summary of the main points of your presentation to help the audience recall information
- A call-to-action to encourage the audience to take a specific action after the presentation
- A memorable statement that leaves the audience with something to think about
- A final Q&A session to clarify doubts and encourage audience engagement and participation
#10. Be Yourself
The best presenters are authentic and true to themselves. Their personality shines through in the way they speak, and this authenticity enables their audience to feel connected with the speaker as an individual — building trust, credibility and engagement.
Being yourself is more than just vague general advice, it’s actually one of the key presentation skills good speakers cultivate. A tried and tested technique to be yourself during a presentation involve using plenty of personal anecdotes and stories, drawing upon your personal experiences to illustrate your points. Using humour that is natural to you, and showing enthusiasm for your topic will also show off your personality whilst naturally making your presentation more engaging.
Finally, speaking in a manner which you are comfortable with is also an excellent confidence booster, which can lead to better presentations.
#11. Always Start Your Presentation Strong
Like the closing, the opening of a presentation is crucial as it sets the tone for the rest of the talk. Capturing the audience’s attention at this stage is crucial as first impressions can often determine if they pay attention to your presentation or not.
A strong opening should be attention-grabbing, memorable, and relevant to the topic of the presentation. Here are a few ways to create a strong opening:
- Use a hook: Start with a surprising fact, a question, a personal story or a quote that relates to your topic. This will grab the audience’s attention and make them curious to hear more.
- Preview the main points: Give a brief overview of the main points you will be covering during the presentation. This will give the audience a roadmap of what to expect and make them more engaged.
- Make a connection: Show the audience how your topic relates to them and their interests or needs. This will create a sense of relevance and encourage them to listen.
- Establish credibility: Introduce yourself and your qualifications as it relates to the topic. This will build trust and credibility with the audience.
By starting with a strong opening, you will be able to capture the audience’s attention and set the tone for the rest of the presentation. This will make it more likely that the audience will be engaged and receptive to your message throughout the talk.
#12. Speak Clearly at a Moderate Pace
Being able to project your voice while speaking clearly at a moderate pace is essential to effective communication.
This means articulating and enunciating your words properly. Avoid mumbling or speaking too fast so the audience has time to keep up and not feel overwhelmed.
You should also speak in a natural rhythm and pace that is comfortable for you. Feel free to use pauses to emphasise key points and give your audience time to absorb information. Varying your pace to match the content of your presentation is also important. For example, speak slower for important or complex information, and speak faster for more casual or interactive segments.
#13. Use a Confident Tone and Project Your Voice
Confidence can make or break your presentation. Top presenters have developed presentation skills such as the ability to project confidence even if they are in an unfamiliar situation. Confident speakers project professionalism and credibility, which keeps the audience engaged.
The quickest way to project an aura of confidence is to pay attention to your voice.
A loud and assertive voice will naturally sound more confident than a soft and shy voice. It’s okay to stick to a tone you’re comfortable with if you are not a naturally energetic speaker, but you have to ensure that you’re always projecting your voice enough to be heard.
Finally, record yourself during a practice presentation session! Going through a video recording of yourself can be an excellent way to review your tone of voice in order to make adjustments.
#14. Speak Simply and Avoid Jargon
The best presentations are simple for the audience to understand. This is essential to communicating your message clearly and effectively.
One of the easiest ways to simplify a presentation is to avoid jargon. Jargon refers to specialised language that is specific to a particular profession, industry, or group of people. Jargon is acceptable if you’re presenting to a group of industry subject matter experts, but should be avoided if you have an audience who is unfamiliar with your topic.
If you must introduce jargon in your presentation, be sure to clearly define technical terms before using them so that your audience understands and can follow your message. At the same time, avoid overwhelming your audience with acronyms or academic language that can be difficult for your audience to follow.
#15. Use Storytelling
Storytelling is a powerful tool that makes your presentation more engaging and relatable for the audience. Using stories, you can illustrate your points and make them more memorable and meaningful.
There are various ways to apply storytelling during a presentation. On the surface, storytelling can be as simple as sharing a personal anecdote or using an example to illustrate a point. More complex storytelling techniques include using a narrative structure throughout your presentation to guide the audience, as well as evoking emotions in the audience to make your message more relatable and memorable.
#16. Have Appropriate Body Language
Top presenters don’t just use their voice to communicate, they make use of body language and non-verbal cues to convey confidence, enthusiasm and credibility in order to enhance their presentations.
Developing an awareness of your body language is one of the most effective ways to improve your presentation skills.
Take these steps to quickly improve your body language during a presentation:
- Confident posture: Stand up straight and maintain eye contact with the audience to project confidence and credibility.
- Use gestures: Appropriate gestures, such as pointing or using open palms, to emphasize key points and make your message more engaging.
- Use facial expressions: Facial expressions, such as smiling or nodding can indicate agreement, enthusiasm, or understanding.
- Use movement: Movement, such as walking around the stage, adds energy to your presentation and keeps the audience engaged.
#17. Use Humour to Break the Ice
Humor can be an effective tool to break the ice and engage the audience in a presentation. Not only does it create a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere, studies also show that humour can make it easier to remember and recall information.
However, it is important to use humour appropriately and avoid jokes or puns that might be offensive or insensitive to some members of the audience. When unsure, some safe types of humour you can use include self-deprecating humour to make yourself more relatable to the audience, or puns to add a light-hearted element to your presentation.
#18. Use Repetition to Enforce Key Points
The best presenters use repetition to reinforce key points and help the audience retain the information.
This means repeating key points, words or phrases throughout a presentation to emphasise their importance. Repetition doesn’t have to be limited to words either. Visuals such as images, charts or graphics can also be repeated throughout a presentation to emphasise key points.
Lastly, repeating the key message of your presentation at the beginning, middle and end can also help your audience remember and even increase the chances of them taking an action.
#19. Use Hand Gestures for Emphasis
After your voice, posture and facial expressions, your hands are the body part audiences are more likely to pay attention to during a presentation.
Natural hand gestures can help emphasise points, express enthusiasm and even build trust during a presentation. This can include using a pointing gesture to indicate a specific point or using an open-hand gesture to express openness. However, excessive or exaggerated gestures only serve to distract the audience and put emphasis on your hand gestures rather than your presentation.
To prevent excessive or exaggerated hand gestures, use hand gestures in moderation and ensure every gesture you do has a purpose. Recording and practising your presentation is a great way to review what you’re doing and catch yourself if you look unnatural.
#20. Use Eye Contact to Connect
Eye contact is an effective way to connect with an audience, build trust and create engagement during a presentation. By making direct eye contact with certain members of the audience, you can create a connection and gauge their reactions.
However, it’s also important to vary your eye contact by looking at different members of the audience and different areas of the room. Avoid focusing your gaze on one area for too long, as this can have the opposite effect of making your audience feel uncomfortable!
#21. Vary Your Voice to Add Emphasis and Interest
One of the most crucial presentation skills to develop is the ability to modulate how you speak. This means varying the tone of your voice to add emphasis, convey emotions, and generate interest during your presentation.
A common technique is to vary the pitch of your voice in order to emphasise key points by stressing certain words or phrases. You can add variation to how you speak by using different tones, inflections or even adjusting the pace of your speech.
Your voice can also be used to convey emotions, such as using a passionate tone to convey enthusiasm or using a calm tone to convey reassurance.
Finally, utilising pauses and silence during your speech can be a great way to give the audience time to absorb information and take in what you’ve just said.
Learn Effective Presentation Skills at FirstCom Academy
Want to develop presentation skills quickly and effectively to fast-track your progress towards becoming a better presenter?
Presentation is a skill you can improve quickly if you keep practising and have someone to give feedback to you in real time.
FirstCom Academy’s presentation skills course is a WSQ-certified and SkillsFuture-eligible presentation skills course ideal for anyone in Singapore who wants to learn how to use their voice, body language and other resources to deliver engaging business presentations.
Whether you haven’t presented before or you are a working professional looking to improve, practice presentation techniques, get real-time feedback and tips from master presentation trainers with our in-person courses.
Remember, becoming a better presenter is a skill that can be developed with practice and dedication. Find out more about Effective Presentation Skills at FirstCom Academy today and see if it is the right course for you!
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