5 Tips to Grow Your Presentation Skills

The outdoor world is currently awash in green shoots and vibrant blooms. Spring growth isn’t limited to botanicals, though. Following are five tips to grow your presentation skills this season:

Arrive Early – Want to start your presentation calm and collected? Get there early. Early birds demonstrate professionalism. They have plenty of time for equipment set up and often a test run. Can slides be seen from the rear of the room? Can your voice be heard from all corners? Arriving early alleviates technical worries and allows for focused attention on your audience and content.

Speak Clearly – You can be heard, but are your words clear? Your voice and speech inflection are critical components of a well-delivered presentation. So too is spot-on pronunciation. Pay special attention to the final sounds in your words, especially those “ng” and “t” endings. Also be aware of competing sounds, from exterior environmental noise to interior disruptions like clanking dishes and loud HVAC systems.

Sweep the Room – Eye contact is always good, right? Not so fast. If you’re locking eyes with just one or two audience members, it can leave them feeling uncomfortable while the rest of your audience feels ignored. What to do? Sweep the room. Keep those eyes moving over the heads of your audience members; they’ll feel included, but not scrutinized.

Move Intentionally – Fidget and make repetitive motions when you’re presenting? Or stand stock-still? Neither is ideal – the former distracting and the latter boring. If you’re prone to repetitive movements, start practicing that next presentation with hands behind your back. If your default stature is more frozen, try moving intentionally toward your audience a couple of steps when delivering a particularly important point, and shifting to the other side of the podium when your presentation reaches a change point. Incorporate intentional movement into your next practice session for a more compelling and visually interesting presentation.

Be Prepared – You arrived early, spoke clearly, nailed the eye contact, and moved intentionally – must be a presentation home run? Not so fast. The presentation isn’t over until that last question is fielded. Time to channel your inner Boy Scout and be prepared for the Q&A. Long before you’re at the podium, try to anticipate all possible questions and develop clear and simple responses. When a question inevitably arises that you are unable to answer, buy yourself thinking time by restating the question. Then direct the questioner to a resource or individual that addresses the query.

Before spring slips into summertime’s easy livin’, why not implement these five tips and watch your presentation results grow right alongside your presentation skills?

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