How Do I Improve My Presentation Skills?

As a professional rising through the ranks, you may give crucial presentations, ranging from elevator pitches to presenting your latest company idea to management. You need the presentation skills, confidence, and style to make your points well-structured, persuasive, and impactful to your audience. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time presenting to a large audience, a large boardroom, or even a Zoom presentation, it is never just a casual affair, even if the event’s dress code is jeans. When it’s in front of one or many people, these situations can be a bit intimidating for anyone, not to mention the logistical considerations for being seen, heard, and engaging with your audience.

Fortunately, big-crowd public speaking is something that thousands of people do every year, and the techniques for doing it right are well known. Starting with these top tips for large audience presentations, you can quickly build your confidence and presentation skills in front of a crowd.

1) Research is Key

To start, it’s important to be knowledgeable about the subject you plan to present and your audience. Knowing these key pieces will allow you to tailor your content, cadence, and presentation style to best align with their needs and interests. To research your audience, you can administer surveys or interviews, look on social media, or ask the event organizers.

Once this task is complete, it’s time to organize your ideas into a cohesive presentation structure. A coherent structure only consists of three parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Use your introduction to capture the attendee’s attention and set the purpose and objectives of your presentation. The body should include your main points, backed examples, and evidence. The conclusion summarizes everything you presented and ends with your contact information and final memorable statement.

2) Write Your Notes on Index Cards

Notes can be essential for keeping track of your presentation when you’re on stage. But a page of notes is never a good idea. Instead of printing your notes on paper, write them onto index cards. Not only are index cards more comfortable to hold at a convenient level, but they’re also too thick to reveal the shaking of your hands.

So, if you’re nervous, always use index cards. Some presenters have begun using their phones as a form of digital notes. This tactic only works if you have an audience that doesn’t see glancing at your phone as an anti-social stage behavior.

3) Only Use Slides for Visuals

Many presenters get caught up in cramming helpful information and talk guides into their slides. However, your audience won’t remember any details of your slides, and you can trip yourself up trying to use slides as speech notes.

Instead, only use your slides for visual diagrams or punchlines for jokes. Your audience will laugh or gain a deeper understanding without worrying about the details. Then, memorize your slides to know what’s behind you without turning around.

Presentation Skill #4) Start Your Day with Confidence-Building

The way you start your day can have a real impact on your final performance. Treat yourself right the morning before your presentation. Take time for an energetic and pampering shower. Do your hair in a way that makes you look and feel confident, and choose a comfortable and flattering outfit. Many people select and lay out their clothes the night before, so there’s no delay in wondering what to wear or if it’s ready. If the presentation is separate from the rest of your day, keep your outfit in a hanging suit or dress bag for a quick change before the event.

5) Eat Well before the Presentation

Don’t skip breakfast. Eat something energizing that is easy on the stomach. If you’re not a breakfast person, scarf a bowl of vanilla yogurt just to get your stomach working for the day, and make sure you’re not low on blood-sugar energy as you prep for the big talk. If you are a breakfast person, focus on whole grains like wheat toast or oatmeal and a protein-packed (but low-fat) beginning like eggs or yogurt and fruit.

Many significant presentation events get scheduled for the afternoon, so you’ll probably also want to gauge your lunch choices carefully. The last thing you want is to feel heavy and sluggish after lunch when you need to be energetic, on the ball, and light on your feet when you take center stage.

6) Mic Check

Never do a presentation without a mic check. This simple technical interaction will ensure that your audience hears your smooth, confident voice at a pleasantly loud volume from the start. Avoid any horrible feedback, static, overpowering sound, or whisper-quiet that could throw off the beginning of your presentation.

When doing a presentation over Zoom, ensure your microphone is working, and you can avoid background noises, if possible. Typically, wearing headphones while presenting online works best, but make sure that your audience can hear you clearly.

Presentation Skill #7) Walk Around and Make Eye Contact

When you talk to many people, they all want to feel like you are presenting directly to them. Walking toward the edge of the stage (if possible) and looking right at your audience can build engagement. Staying moving is often helpful for presentation nerves. Your best bet for connecting with the audience is to look directly out and make eye contact.

Suppose you can’t see through the lights. Still, try to make eye contact. Many audience members don’t realize that you can’t see them and will feel connected with them anyway.

Presentation Skill #8) Better to Go Fast Than End Late

Don’t worry about going too fast and finishing early. When there are a hundred or more people in the audience, no one will complain about you finishing early, but they will gripe if you finish late. If you talk a little fast or reach the end of your presentation and slides too soon, your best bet is to take questions or extemporize real-world stories related to your subject. Then, watch the clock and release everyone on time for the next event. If you want networking time afterward, release a little early and shake hands as people leave.

9) Network After the Presentation

One essential quality of a business leader is to connect with your audience (and critical audience members) after your big talk. Take the time to thank each person or specific important people for coming and ask what they thought about your presentation. Turn your moment in the spotlight into a chance to network and trade business cards or ideas with the people whose opinions of your talk matter most.

Giving a presentation to a large audience doesn’t have to be a mystery or an intimidating event. With some preparation, you can ensure your presentation is smooth, enjoyable, and informative for all who attend. Just remember to practice your talk and slide usage a few times before the event, and always work with your on-stage technicians to ensure your mic, screen, slides, and clicker all work as you expect during the main event.

Career Technical Institute provides Career Development opportunities to their students to help ensure success once the student is out working in the “real world.” Our interactive workshops provide students with opportunities to work on these skills to help them feel more relaxed and ready to enter the workforce.

Learn more about CTI’s Career Development for students and their career training programs by clicking here or calling us at 888-516-5339.