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Five essential presentation skills

This year being 2018, chances are that you will be asked to give numerous presentations as part of your job. Altough at first, just by thinking about giving a presentation might ruin your day, with practice and time you can get better and more confident.

Here are five tips to short-cut your way there:

1. Prepare

Nothing can captivate audiences more than a presenter who knows what she is talking about. If you’re giving a group presentation and you prepared your part 5 minutes before the presentation, everyone will be able to tell. You will stumble and pause to think all the time and you will put off the audience.

To avoid being that person, prepare your slides days ahead and take a brief look at them every day. This way you’ll familiarise yourself with the content and you’ll be naturally more confident.

Also, rehearsing whether that is in the shower, in front of a mirror, in front of friends or even in your head, always helps.

2. Tell a story

To get your audience’s interest you’ll need to connect them with the material on an emotional level and the best way to do that is to think of your presentation like a story.

Human beings are programmed to respond to stories. Stories help us to pay attention, and also to remember things. If you can use stories in your presentation, your audience is more likely to engage and to remember your points afterwards. Have a central theme in your presentation and take your audience on a journey around it.

Figure where do you want to start your story, how do you want to end it and how you’re going to get there.

3. The 10/20/30 rule

Guy Kawasaki, a venture capitalist was the person who first came up with the 10/20/30 rule: “a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.”

Kawasaki argues that given people’s increasingly shortening attention spans, people cannot comprehend more than 10 concepts in a single meeting. So, keep your presentation compact and try to use around 10 slides.

You should present these 10 slides, you should present them in 20 minutes. In 1996, professors Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish discovered that adults seem to be able to only pay attention during a lecture for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. They had better retention of the concepts and facts presented during the first 20 minutes of the lecture.

Finally, make sure to use large, easy-to-read text on your slides. The font size should be at least 30.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
4. Take Deep Breaths

The first times I presented I always forgot to breath. When we’re nervous, our muscles tighten–you may even catch yourself holding your breath.

If you catch yourself feeling too tense and nervous, go ahead and take those deep breaths to get oxygen to your brain and relax your body.

5. Practice

When you’re starting out, presentations (and the thought of giving them) can fill you with stress, you’ll get better as you practice.

The most important thing to understand is that you must learn from your mistakes. After each presentation think about what went wrong and try to do it better next time, one step at a time.

At some point, presenting will become a routine part of your job.

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