There is a real art to public speaking.
Most people aren’t naturals.
Like most things, the more you do it the better you get.
But what happens when you don’t have the luxury of time? What happens when you’ve been dropped in the deep end and have to deliver a presentation?
Monday morning your boss tells you you’ll be doing a sales presentation on Friday.
You have no time!
You have to think about your content, your delivery, your slides!
You can spend all week stressing about it or you can use these 3 easy tricks to master the art of public speaking and deliver a killer presentation. Afterwards, check out 6 more tips of how to get better at public speaking.
Have a hook
The hardest part of any presentation is deciding what you are going to say first.
What you say first sets the tone for the remainder of the speech. This is what people will remember.
They say that people judge you in the first couple of seconds upon meeting you. The same thing happens when you deliver a presentation. What you do and how you appear in the first few seconds of your presentation sets the tone for the audience.
What is a hook?
A hook is a starter that hooks your audience into your presentation. It engages them. It also helps you project confidence.
One of the best and easiest hooks you can use is to ask a question. The first thing you do when you walk in front of the room is ask a question related to your presentation topic.
Asking a question works well for a number of reasons:
- It confirms for the audience the general content of the presentation.
- It gets the audience’s attention. A question forces everyone to listen.
- It gives you a smooth starter. Starting with “Hello, I am John Carter from the marketing department…” is boring and will disengage your audience fast.
- It takes the pressure off you. When you ask a question you are showing the audience you are in control and you have passed the next step off to them. They have to give some kind of answer before the presentation continues.
- It buys you some time, and therefore helps you to relax.
Let’s look at an example:
Say I am delivering training on how to be a better presenter. The first thing is do as I walk on stage is raise my hand and ask: “Who likes delivering presentations?”
Of course the majority of people will say no or shake their heads. This gives you the chance to ask further questions to the audience and transition smoothly into your introduction.
Be comfortable with mistakes
It is good to practice your speech. Walking onto the stage completely unprepared is a bad move.
No matter how much you practice though you will inevitably make mistakes.
Everyone makes mistakes when they are presenting. It just happens.
I have some content that I have delivered for years and I still make mistakes with it, mess up the order, forget parts, etc.
The important thing is to remember that we are human and do make mistakes. Making mistakes is actually something that will help to connect you with your audience because they can see you are human just like them.
Be comfortable with making mistakes and get used to being able to just laugh them off, correct yourself if necessary, and continue your presentation.
Check your body language
The first few seconds of your presentation is where the audience is judging you:
- Is this going to be another one of these boring business presentations?
- Can I trust this presenter?
- Please let this presenter be confident so I can relax
Your body language is the main indicator of your confidence or lack of it.
In the first few seconds of your presentation it is important to make eye contact with the audience and have an open body position.
An open body position means, gesture naturally as you talk and avoid putting your hands behind your back, in front of you, or folding your arms.
Don’t force yourself to maintain this position throughout your presentation if you are nervous. Just try your best for the first 2 or 3 seconds and you’ll create a much better impression.
Implement these 3 easy tricks and your presentation will be well-received by your audience.
Further reading on how to learn presentation skills where you’ll discover free public speaking courses and in-depth articles to prepare a speech or presentation from the ground up.
Who knows, your boss might ask you to do another one next week! 🙂