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An author can have the words, the ideas, the greatest plot, but what does it matter if he has a writing style that is equal to Rachel’s waitressing skills from the popular sit-com Friends? Similarly with a presentation, an idea that cannot be presented well is as useless as a phone without signal. A list of things that poor presentation skills may lead to are; unemployment, bankruptcy, and possibly worse of all, a bad image. In short, being a good presenter is an essential skill! 

Improve your presentation skills with the following tips:

DO’s

  • Know your audience. Understand what they will relate to, what they will respond to.
  • Do some brainstorming to boil your message down to 3 or 4 main points.
  • Prepare and stick to simple, short sentences. You, and your audience, are likely to lose track if you meander along through complex sentences with multiple clauses (like this one).
  • Examples help make more sense, use them regularly to illustrate ideas.
  • Words and slides are not enough, use body language to reinforce your delivery.
  • If you must have slides, keep them simple, keen, and focused on one message at a time.
  • Practice your presentation beforehand.
  • Spell-check! Have someone else go through your slides and your rehearsal – make sure it makes sense to them!
  • Dress comfortably. If you’ve never worn those clothes or that pair of shoes before, or haven’t worn a tie in years, making yourself uncomfortable during an important presentation is the last thing you should do.
  • Familiarize yourself with the location, and most importantly, the equipment (always test it!) before presenting.
  • Breathe, relax and smile at your audience before presenting.
  • Pick a few random people across the audience to make eye contact with at different points in the presentation.
  • Don’t think its a one-person show, invite interaction, allow your audience to express their opinions with respect to your presentation.
  • Remember that silence is an excellent presentation tool. Pause for effect, pause to make eye contact with the audience after asking a question or saying something central to your message – it draws the audience in even closer.
  • Splash some humour around, when appropriate.

DON’Ts

  • Use too much jargon or specialized words/expressions.
  • Turn your back to your audience or look away from the audience for great amounts of time.
  • Have no eye contact during your presentation, or fix your eye contact on only one person.
  • Multitask while presenting – be fully present and focused on the task and the audience.
  • Move too rapidly or too often in front of the audience – you don’t want them distracted or dizzy. 
  • Fold your arms either in front of you or behind you – unless for emphasis in line with something you’re saying.
  • Keep your hands in your pockets throughout your presenting…or,
  • Move your hands too much, or too repetitively. Stick to the natural movements that emphasis your words. The rest of the time, even though it may feel unnatural, let your hands hang by your sides, ready to emphasise or mirror your next point.
  • Dress inappropriately or wear too many ornaments. The audience is there to watch you present, not to watch you as the object.
  • Imitate someone’s style. Use your own style, which you will develop as you practise, and when you start making more presentations.

Have we missed any of your favourite do’s and don’ts? Let us know what works best for you!

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