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Top tips for upgrading your presentation skills

Back in 2008, Barack Obama, delivered his inspirational ‘yes we can’ speech when he took up the role of President Elect of the United States of America. Obama, the first ever black president of America, spoke of the future years in office and his goals, noting that his election was not a personal victory but a victory for the country as whole. He received a special reaction from the crowd throughout the delivery of his speech, as he insisted… ‘this is our time.’

However, many of us would agree that the prospect of climbing Mt Everest might appear an easier task than speaking in the same persuasive and articulate way as Barack. Lucky for you, we’ve called on some expertise from book printing specialists: Where the Trade Buys. Here’s their top ten presentation tips.

Why should the audience listen to you?

Robert T Kiyosaki, in his personal finance book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, coins the phrase ‘no one owes you anything’. As much as we might not like to accept it Kiyosaki is correct — it is up to us to earn the attention of our listener by discussing something interesting. We cannot expect to warrant someone’s appreciation straight off the bat, simply because of who we are. They are going to give up their precious time to listen to us, but why should they? Tell them of your experience in the area, and reason why you are the one standing up to make the presentation as opposed to them.

Make the first five seconds count

It is no lie that you need to get in and make your point before they switch off — recall the episode of Friends when Ross put his palaeontology lecturer to sleep. With a piranha-like bite, you attack, ensuring your audience hones in. Often you are going to be using a digital presentation that will include your topic title, and they will already know your name. ‘Different’, in this circumstance, is detrimental.

Make an effort to be understandable

Do you know the main reason most speeches fail? Because, the audience don’t understand what is being said, as it has been over complicated. The best speeches in the history of time were delivered succinctly and weren’t overflowing with jargon. The biggest mistake one can make is to overcomplicate the language used — it doesn’t simply confuse the listener, but it will more than likely cause you to trip up as well.

Watch your timing

As much as you shouldn’t try and rush through your presentation as your audience need a certain amount of time to understand it, don’t fall into the trap of reading at a snail pace, or talking drivel because you don’t have enough engaging content. Take a step back when you are initially planning your presentation: work out exactly how many ideas you wish to propose and assign an appropriate amount of time to each. Similarly, breathing can be incredibly under-rated — don’t starve yourself of oxygen.

Storytelling can help get your audience emotionally involved

This can be a perfect way of getting your audience emotionally involved in your presentation, however don’t be lulled into a false sense of security — it requires a lot of creativity. Rather than telling jokes, this can be the perfect way to get your audience laughing, and for that, they will remember you. Your story can be whatever you want because it’s your story. Make the detail as extravagant as you like, just be confident that the content of the story relates to the purpose of your presentation.

Use good quality pictures

A presentation that is heavily saturated with text can often prove to be challenging to divulge, particularly if it’s a large group, therefore, imagery can sometimes be a good focus point and you can talk about the photos. However, if you are going to go down the road of using images, make sure that they can be easily seen and interpreted. The sheer quality of a picture can act as a make or break for the entire success of your presentation.

Attention… realise it works both ways

What is the key to get your audience’s attention? Pay attention to them! That said, learn your presentation, or at the very least, the basic structure beforehand. Yes, off-the-cuff might work for one in a thousand, but no one wants to listen to someone stumble their way through their presentation with Mr Blobby-like co-ordination. Rehearsing a handful of times in front of family, friends, or even the mirror, will give you the confidence to act upon their reactions, as opposed to aimlessly talking to a screen.

Serve up your emotional side

The best way of getting your audiences unrestricted attention is to show them that you are interested by the topic you’re discussing — stand up straight, speak with confidence, and don’t be afraid to serve up a side order of emotion. You don’t have to put in a performance deserving of an Oscar but showing your audience you are interested in what you’re speaking about is essential —if you don’t care, how can you expect them to? Obviously, we won’t always be tasked with speaking about a topic we would die for, but by racking your brain and coming up with why it’s important to you, you’ve certainly made a start.

Be cautious with telling jokes

Your best mate, your grandmother, and the local minister — asides from the obvious difference, you wouldn’t have the same conversation with them. The reason we don’t is because we can successfully take heed of our audience — and a presentation is no different. Jokes are often inappropriate in a presentation, but if you’re going to use them, at least make sure they are going to be understood.

When the curtain falls

What is the first thing the audience will remember at the end of the presentation — the very last thing you say. Therefore, it is no surprise that the cliché of ‘going out with a bang’ has stuck around for so long — because if we don’t, we’ll be forgotten in a flash.

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