There’s no getting around it: Whether you’re defending your thesis or trying to win over foreign clients, you will have to speak in front of a large group of people at some point and try to convince them of something. This may be more difficult for some folks than others, but it’s more of a matter of time and effort rather than natural speaking ability.
Luckily, it’s easy to make a presentation that will win over your friends, family, and coworkers. Here are some tips that may help you out:
Find Your Theme
Your first order of business is to determine what your presentation will be about: Are you defending something you established in an essay? Are you trying to point to a trend? Or are you trying to sell a product?
After you’ve determined what your presentation will cover, back it up in subsequent slides or paragraphs with stats, graphs, trends, explanations, and other supporting information.
Simplify Your Information And Make It Relatable
When we talk about keeping things simple, we don’t mean speaking so slowly that even your youngest listeners may die of natural causes during your presentation; we mean condensing information so that people can understand it. The best college professors, business leaders, celebrities, and political leaders do it all the time.
This means speaking in shorter sentences with descriptive language that gets your across. Never use a “big word” where a smaller one would suffice.
More importantly, this means developing empathy with your audience and making sure it answers their questions or solves their problems. Steve Jobs, the genius behind Apple, did this really well:
When Jobs introduced each successive line of Apple iPads and iPhones, he wasn’t prattling on about the technical specifications of each product; he talked about how it could solve people’s problems and make their lives better: One app could do what it took two or three apps, the interface was made brighter and more visible, and the increased storage meant you could take more pictures and record more videos. Simple yet descriptive and powerful.
Make Sure Your Audience Can Read What You’ve Written
It’s also good practice to make sure that your presentation also comes as readable, too. No doubt we’ve all read books that have had paragraphs that seemingly went on forever. No coincidence that those books were some of the worst we’ve read, too.
That’s exactly why blank space is a pre-requisite, not a luxury. Whether you’re writing an essay or making a PowerPoint, large walls of text can be difficult to read. Give your words room to breathe; separate relevant information into short paragraphs or other slides. Remove pictures or chunks of text that you may find superfluous, and increase the font size of everything that you leave in. You’ll thank us when your audience won’t have to squint.
Rehearse, But Remember To Be Flexible
There’s a reason why the best orators seldom use a teleprompter, and it’s because reading something out loud word-for-word sounds stilted and boring regardless of how much pep you put into it. Want proof? Record yourself while you’re reading your favorite book out loud.
In addition to curing your audience’s insomnia, it doesn’t leave you a lot of wiggle room for experimentation and explanation. What if someone – one of the two or three folks who are still awake – asks a question and throws you off your game? What if you forget something and don’t have your script in handy? Let’s also keep in mind that your audience can read your PowerPoint for themselves, too.
Rather than rehearsing some lengthy mass of text that you may forget, its best to stick to talking points – easy-to-remember words or phrases that you can use during your presentation. Put them on a notecard or a slide you can look at briefly – something. Expand on something that’s on the PowerPoint and explain things you’ve left out. Just don’t read off the paper.
Finally, remember to keep these talking points simple. Simplifying things doesn’t just help your audience; it helps you tell them what they need to know.