Public speaking is a task that many entrepreneurs fear. Unfortunately, it can be the make or break element to an excellent business idea, so it’s vital to get it right. Even the least experienced professional can present a flawless pitch with a few tweaks here and there.
Here’s a look at five public speaking tips to perfect your pitch or presentation:
Everyone dreams of displaying Ted Talk swagger. Sashaying across the stage with the utmost confidence in every word you’re saying, with just the right amount of gesticulation. However, this isn’t something that comes naturally to public speakers. Remember, they’ve had years of practice to develop their speaking style. As long as you stand up straight and make eye contact, you’ll communicate a positive demeanor.
Your posture and overall body language says just as much as your verbal communication and it’s vital that you keep this in mind. An audience—whether 1 or 100 people—needs to believe in you and what you are saying. You may have flawlessly designed PowerPoint slides and great ideas, but if you sink into your shoulders, stare at your computer and nervously stutter your way through a presentation, the harsh truth is that no one will take you seriously. Stand up straight, smile when appropriate, move your hands to emphasize points and roll your shoulders back.
It comes as no surprise that practice makes perfect. This old mantra that has been applied to most life lessons and is still applicable today. If you run through your presentation a few times in advance, you’ll be more confident. However, this doesn’t mean you can quietly proofread slides in the office. Instead, grab a friend, colleague, or video camera to pose as your audience (and with a video camera you can actually critique your performance). This will help you to discover gaps in information and consider questions you’ll be asked by attendees.
Consider how many times people are greeted by tacky Word Art titles on spectacularly tacky PowerPoint slides. Instead, perhaps you’ll want to get creative with audio and visuals to really make your presentation stand out. For example, displaying your slideshow on a high quality projector will look much more impressive than hooking up to out-dated hardware.
If you’re in an industry where you’re constantly pitching clients, projectors are a worthwhile investment. If you are renting out a larger event space and presenting to a large audience, you may want to consider audio equipment such as lapel microphones and portable audio systems. Ensure that everyone in the room can hear and see your presentation; handing out hard copies of your presentation just isn’t going to cut it.
Short Slides, Slow Delivery
Short and sweet isn’t necessarily a winning formula when it comes to presentations and pitching. Yes, people can ask questions at the end so you don’t need to include every little statistic and figure, but you’ll need to strike a fine balance. A pitch that’s too short may seem rushed and unprepared. Ensure that you’re taking a moment to pause and breathe.
Sometimes when our nerves get the better of us we speed up our speech to get it over with — quickly. To display confidence, take control of your breathing and pace yourself. Cull back slides to give yourself more material to discuss. This will also ensure you’re not breaking the golden role of reading directly from the slide.
Perhaps a short video could illustrate your point better than words ever could? Consider finding examples to enhance your presentation, but only when necessary. Many argue that multimedia is the key to a great presentation, but it can actually become an unnecessary distraction and take the focus away from your key message.
Playing a lengthy or irrelevant video can look sloppy and leave your audience wondering and trying to recall your original point. When incorporating multimedia, seek a second opinion to ensure the content is fully grasped and linked to key ideas.
In the end, it all boils down to delivery; the way we walk, talk and engage with our audience. It may take time to find a balance and take each point into consideration, but you’ll get there in the end. With a bit of practice, and keeping the tips in mind, your next presentation could be a roaring success!
This article has been edited and condensed.
Suzanne Yates is a business writer at Avonics, an audio, video and lighting solutions specialist with over 16 years’ experience. Whether it’s a crackling microphone or fuzzy picture on a plasma screen, Avonics have the facilities and experience to find and solve the problem quickly and efficiently. Connect with @avonics on Twitter.
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