How to Improve Your Presentation Skills


Effective public relations demands first-rate communication skills, whether one-to-one, or one to 100. Learn to prepare your presentations with care, conquer your nerves, and appraise your performance honestly after the event.

Preparing to Present

Few of us are gifted with a natural talent for public speaking. For most people, a successful presentation relies on careful planning and preparation. Start by finding out as much as you can about those you will be addressing, so that you can pitch your talk at the right level. How large will your audience be? Will participants be there by choice? Do they have knowledge of the subject? What is their age and sex? Do they have any relevant affiliations? Think about your style of deliver)-: should it be light and anecdotal, or serious and academic?

Presentation Skills

Researching the Detail

To help you face your audience with confidence, research your venue. Find out how the room will be organized. Will seating be set out theatre-style, around a table, or in a horseshoe shape? Having done your research, concentrate on your speech. Define the purpose and intended outcome of your talk, decide on a theme, gather the facts you need, and organize them into a logical structure. Break the talk into manageable chunks. Prepare notes or cue cards and organize handouts or visual aids.

Developing Your Own Style

Truly successful speakers have a strong presence and unique style, and it can be tempting to try to emulate them. However, it is important to develop a style that is natural for you. If you feel comfortable, you will come across as sincere, which will help you win over audiences. Ensure that your style is not patronising. Use everyday words and phrases. Try to be yourself and imagine that you are talking to just one other person, not a crowd. Speak with immense enthusiasm, even passion. Convey feeling. Remember that enthusiasm is contagious, so spread it to your audience.

Coping with Nerves

It is natural to be nervous at the prospect of facing an audience, however small. In fact, the rush of adrenaline that results from nervousness helps you cope with the stresses of a presentation. However, excessive nerves need to be dealt with. Confidence in your knowledge of the subject can act as a nerve-calmer. Rehearse beforehand to help reassure yourself that you can do it. Practice relaxation breathing techniques so that you are able to control and steady your breathing when the adrenaline kicks in. Use some of your nervous energy to enliven your speech. Take a deep breath, before you begin, and have a glass of water at your side to deal with dryness of the mouth. Sometimes it can help to tell your audience that you are feeling a little nervous; this can act as an ice-breaker and assist in winning their goodwill.

Presentation Skills

Facing the Audience

The first few minutes of a talk are the most difficult. Survive these, and it can only get easier. Welcome your audience and establish a rapport. Make eye contact to help establish and maintain their interest. Run through the proposed content as part of your introduction. Tell your audience when you will finish, whether there will be any breaks, and whether you will be providing handouts and taking questions. Pace yourself. By the time you complete your introduction, your nerves will have calmed. Immediately after your talk, assess your performance. What did you do well? Where could you improve? Follow up any undertakings made, such as sending out further information

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About the Author: Alan Kennon lives a very happy life with two kids and a lovely wife. He likes to share his life time experiences with others about how they can improve their lifestyle and personality.

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