Three Surprising Tips to Improve Your Presentations
by Lisa Braithwaite
You've heard the advice to get to know your audience, make eye contact, don't say um, check your equipment, and similar techniques. Here are some lesser-known suggestions that will benefit you and your audience as much as more common advice.
You've all heard the advice to get to know your audience, make eye contact, don't say "um," check your equipment, and similar public speaking techniques to make your presentations as powerful as they can be. These are great tips, and you'll hear them over and over, but I've got some lesser-known suggestions for you today that will benefit you and your audience as much as more common advice.
Pointer 1: Take your medications
As an allergy sufferer, I can tell you that I am not at my best when giving a talk through sniffles and itchy eyes. Even if I'm not having a particular allergic day, I will be sure to take my prescription medication before I speak, to ensure that I don't have a sudden unexpected reaction.
If your nervousness goes to your gut, by all means take your upset stomach medication. If you get tension headaches, head them off at the pass with your favorite pain reliever. Do what it takes to avoid the physical distractions that will disrupt your performance and keep you from doing your best.
One caveat to this advice: Avoid psychiatric anti-anxiety medications before speaking; you will not be as sharp as you could be. There are non-pharmaceutical ways of dealing with nervousness and anxiety that will not interfere with your ability to think on your feet and interact with your audience.
Pointer 2: Start on time
How many times have you arrived on time for a presentation, even early, and ended up sitting there for an extra fifteen minutes while stragglers made their way to the seats in the back of the room? Then, because the presentation started late, it ends late, but you've had to miss the end because you have other commitments on your schedule.
Waiting for latecomers rewards latecomers, but it punishes those who were on time for your presentation. Latecomers may be a distraction when then enter the room after the presentation has started, but what's worse: a little disruption by laggards or being responsible for annoying the half of your audience who made the effort to be on time and now might miss the end if you go over?
Take charge of the room, take charge of your time, and make the decision to reward the people who are committed and punctual.
Pointer 3: Give the end of your sentences the same energy you give to the beginning of your sentences
This is a simple tool but an effective one. Some people's voices trail off at the ends of sentences, making it hard to hear the last few words they've said. As a speaker, trailing off at the ends of sentences means that your audience might miss something important. Make sure you are emphasizing both ends of your sentences, and your audience will never miss a crucial point or valuable tip!
Stick with the tried-and-true public speaking advice you've heard before, but in addition, try adding these three tricks to your bag the next time you have a speaking engagement. See if you don't feel more confident and pulled together onstage and more successful in connecting with the audience.