How to Improve Your Presentation Skills: A Complete Guide Part 1

A presentation provides you with an opportunity to effectively pitch your products/services present your business plan or promote your business to a large audience. That’s why you should master the art of giving a presentation in order to impress your audience and get the desired results.

The following guide explains how to improve your communication skills and deliver an exceptional presentation.

Focus on Your Needs

What’s the next presentation you have to give? Where you are most focused on improving your presentation skills? Is it giving a job interview, fear of public speaking, speaking to a large group, or something else? Determine your needs and focus on them.

When giving a presentation, you also need to focus on your audience. You have to look at every presentation through the lens of your audience. Your presentation should be tailored to the interests and needs of your audience.

Brainstorm Your Messages

It’s time to brainstorm message points and ideas that you want to put in your presentation. This is a tricky thing for most people, but if you look at it from the perspective of your audience and their needs, then brainstorming will be easier.

However, make sure to narrow down your messages. You don’t want to present everything you’ve brainstormed. Narrow down to three or five messages you think are the most important.

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Choose Appropriate Tools

If you want to be good at building your presentation skills, then you’ll have to learn how to identify the tools and tactics best suited to each particular situation. For instance, if you are giving a presentation to a venture, PowerPoint will be an appropriate format.

Practice on Video

Don’t ever give any presentation until you’ve practiced on video. Use your cell phone. Practice recording yourself on video, review it and keep doing it till you love what you see.

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Get Feedback

After you record a video and you’re happy with the end result, send the video to a friend or two friends, a family member, or colleagues. Ask them to watch it and after they’ve watched it, ask them what they remember from the video. If you had any visuals, ask them what visual they remembered. 

 If they remembered your visual and message, that means you were successful. If they just tell you that everything was smooth and professional, it means you’ve failed. You didn’t get them to remember any of your ideas. In this case, you need to go back to the drawing board, recraft your speech, rerecord it, resend it to them or a couple of other people until they tell what you want to hear.  Your goal is to make an impression on them with your message.

Upload the Video

After you’ve got the best presentation you’ve recorded so far, upload it to either YouTube, Facebook, or some video-sharing platform where it’s visible to people. You must get used to showing it to other people. Part of what scares us is the possibility of negative judgment, but remember that nobody cares about you, and even if they make judgments, you shouldn’t care about that. Sharing your presentation with people not only boosts your confidence, but you can get constructive feedback to improve. Of course, you shouldn’t share anything if it’s confidential.  

Get Feedback from Your Audience

Though testing your presentation in front of your friends and colleagues can help you improve it, the objective is the actual audience you’re going to give the presentation. You want to make sure your presentation delivers what they are looking for. 

The best way to know what your audience wants is by asking questions. If you have given a pitch before and been successful, ask your client why they hired you or what about your presentation made an impression. It can seem awkward or embarrassing to do this, but people are happy to talk about that most of the time. It will help you know what moved your audience, and you can use that in your next presentation. 

Tell Stories

What’s the single most significant difference between great presenters and boring ones? It’s not about their vocabulary, accent, or how good-looking they are. It’s storytelling!

Great presenters tell personalized stories for every single message they want their audience to understand and remember. Now there’s a lot of confusion about stories. People tell me, “Oh, T.J., I’m not a natural-born storyteller.” Two minutes later, they’re telling me about their way into the training facility that day, how someone cut them off, how they were late to a scene, and they almost drove off in telling stories. All human beings tell stories all the time. We do it mostly with family and friends in a relaxed atmosphere.

However, great presenters use stories to present ideas about business, civic life, companies, goals, campaigns, and more. If you want to be a great presenter, you’ve got to tell great stories to illustrate your key messages. Your audience is going to love you.

Add Visuals

Visuals help your audience understand and remember your messages more clearly. Visuals can come in all sizes and shapes. For instance, if your presentation is a marriage proposal, your visual might be a diamond ring. If you’re giving a presentation on a new tennis racket design, show the tennis racket. If you have a new super-slim laptop, show how slim the laptop is. 

These days, PowerPoint is the easiest visual for most people. However, you can have any sort of visuals, such as an image or a graph, as long as they effectively deliver your messages and make them more understandable for your audience. 

Use a Cheat Sheet

Don’t worry about memorizing, stressing, or trying to read bullet points on PowerPoint slides or your notes. You don’t want to read to your audience because it makes you look boring. Instead, prepare a single-page cheat sheet of your main messages, print it out in large fonts, put it down in front of you, and glance at it occasionally. This makes it easy for you to memorize your messages without going through a whole bunch of screens, and you look supremely confident and authoritative. 

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