5 Terrific Tips to Boost Your Presentation Skills

1. Prepare Your Material

One of the keys to a successful presentation is “knowing your stuff.” Regardless of what you will be talking about, you need to be as informed and knowledgeable as you can possibly be. Do an in-depth study of the materials you will be presenting or discussing.

Know it all-inside and out. Be prepared to answer any questions about the material that might arise. Then create an outline or bullet points to work from for your actual presentation. Don’t read from a speech word for word; that sounds unnatural and forced.

2. Prepare Yourself

Once you know your material, it’s time to get yourself ready for the big presentation. You want to dress for success and wear comfortable shoes, be well groomed, and portray confidence when you speak in public. But it also important to prepare yourself mentally. Take deep breaths and do other physical exercises to help you get ready and avoid the jitters. Eat or drink something prior to the big moment. Go to the bathroom. Check your hair. Do whatever you need to get psyched up for what you are about to do.

Most importantly, imagine everything going right, visualize your success, and remember you are there to help other people in some way via the information you are presenting, so you are there to provide a valuable service.

3. Hold Their Attention

Know your audience. If possible, find out as much about the demographics (age, background, sex, etc.) of the group you will speak to, so you can customize your presentation to better meet their needs. Then take it a step further. Learn the stages listeners go through during a presentation so you can use techniques that will hold your audience’s attention-from the beginning to the end.

Tell stories, use analogies, include metaphors and similes, share handouts, incorporate multi-media such as visuals or music, and infuse your presentation with humor. Utilize whatever is at your disposal to keep them engaged.

4. Choose Power Words For Impact

Your choice of words can often make an incredible difference in your presentation. Depending on the topic, certain words hold an almost magical power-creating dynamic impact for the audience. Some words call listeners to action. Others help them visualize their potential. Choose certain specific words that hold power for your particular audience, write them on your outline in bold letters, and deliberately use them as appropriate during your presentation, especially at the beginning and the end-in your opening and closing. Whenever possible, tie the beginning and the end of your presentation together to provide a feeling of closure and indicate that your presentation is complete.

5. Maximize Your Effect

There are various techniques you can learn and use to maximize your personal effect on your audience. From how you dress to the gestures you use (or don’t use) and the inflections in your voice, your body language creates an impression that can either support or negate your message and enhance or detract from your presentation. You want to make deliberate choices about the body language you use and the other non-verbal clues and cues you give your audience.

One of the best ways to do this is to experiment by giving your presentation (to yourself) in front of a mirror and trying different motions, gestures, expressions, and voice inflections to develop the impression you want to leave. You may also wish to practice in front of a “test” audience of people you trust and ask for their feedback.

The Psychology and Use of Bullet Points in Presentations

(In this article I will only refer to presenters / presentations. However, the information also applies to trainers and training courses)

Unfortunately, one of the most common types of slide found in presentations and training courses is that of the “Bullet Point”: A list of long, often complex sentences which the presenter believes or hopes will help communicate their message effectively. Frequently, the presenter insists on reading each bullet point aloud (A Reading Master Class!) Which is often seen as insulting the audience’s intelligence and the presenter seems to go outside the written text which can confuse the audience. More often than not it is a crutch for the presenter instead of an aid for the audience. Even worse, it is often used with a dark blue background and white or yellow letters which is a great way to get the audience to disconnect from the presentation. (1)

Also, It is often shown as an “Open Show” slide where all the information is presented at one time. This is a big problem in a presentation as anything that is projected onto the screen immediately takes precedence over what the presenter is saying. The audience have to read, and understand, everything on the screen BEFORE the can pay attention to the presenter.

It is important to remember that the use of PowerPoint is to produce “Visual Aids” which are designed to help the audience to clearly understand a complex topic. They are NOT designed to act as a substitute for the presenter. “In a June 2013-2014 study, the results indicate that 88% of audience members disconnect from presentations when it turns into a master class reading lesson (2).”

It is the Presenter’s job to “control” the audience during the presentation and this includes their conscious and subconscious mental processes.

Social markers vs content:

Please read the following and identify the main message of the communication:

- Open the door!

- Would you please open the door!

- If it’s not too much trouble, would you please open the door!

- I would really appreciate it, if you could do me a favour and open the door!

- I know we have only been together for a short time today. However, I would really appreciate it if you could, whenever it is convenient for you, stand up and open the door.

Obviously, the message is “Open the door” in all of them. Apart from the first one which is the most basic and clearest one, all of the rest of them have what are known as “Social Markers”. These show the speaker’s perceived status relative to the receiver. The first one is from the absolute power to a subordinate. The last one is from a very subordinate person to the perceived as the most powerful: The longer the social marker used, the higher the status of the receiver.

End-weighting

In a post-graduate study that I undertook many years ago, investigated exactly what audience remembered with information listed as bullet points and our results showed that, in general, if the first point was memorable for some reason, the audience remember the concept. The degree of recall decreased with each successive point. The audience did, however tend to remember more clearly the last 2 or 3 points. This is another example of the primacy / recency effect in action.

Priority of the writer vs the reader

Task: Before continuing reading this article, Rapidly write down the five things that are most important for you in a relationship:

I am sure that you have written the most important one first and then in descending order of importance. Possibly, the last one or two are of much less importance the first ones. This has a very serious effect in presentations: The writer/presenter’s order of importance is usually from the most important to the least important while the reader will focus on, and remember most clearly, the last ones. Also, implicit in a bullet list is the relationship between the elements in the list which may, or may not, be clear to the audience.

In English & Spanish and many other languages, the main content of the communication is usually at the end. In spoken communication, we have the examples shown above.

Where is the main content of a written communication:

- in a paragraph – at the end.

- in a scientific communication – at the end (the conclusions)

- In a Detective story – at the end (Identification of the criminal)

Animation

In order to use bullet points effectively, it is highly recommended that the presenter animate each one to appear when they decide to show it: they then decide for how long the audience will see it and they also decide when it is time to move on to the next point. Finally, it forces the presenter to talk about each point in a way which the audience can follow. In this way the presenter is controlling the subconscious mental processes of the audience and it also allows them to elegantly make their presentation longer or shorter depending upon the time available: A.K.A. “An Accordion Presentation”.

Capital vs Small letters.

It is vital that the orthograpic rules of the language are followed in presentation slides exactly the same as if we were writing a report or other document. There in, in my opinion, NEVER any reason to write complete sentences or paragraphs in block capitals – even for titles.

Letter size

The minimum size for letters should be 28 point (Ariel). If the presenter really wants the audience to be able to read what they have written.

Deletion of redundant words

Do NOT write complete, complex sentences. Instead, write the key words that will pique the audience’s curosity about what you are going to say and therefore make them listen and pay attention in order to understand the message completely. Consider them as a “hook” to catch the subconscious mind of the audience.

E.g.,

“We will increase sales by 20% in the next quarter (Q4) after the launch of our new product” (BAD)

vs

” Sales (Q4) + 20%: New product.” (Good)

As you can see, there is much more to using simple “Bullet Points” in a presentation. There are alternative ways of communicate which are more effective and that will be the discussed in a future article.

Your feedback would be appreciated.

(1). “The results of a study done by Brownlee & Associates regarding this topic have been published in an article: “How to kill a presentation stone dead in three easy steps.” June, 2012. The link can be found below.”

Top Tips When Buying Motorbike Christmas Presents

No sooner have you packed away your summer holiday things does the weather get colder all of a sudden, you start to see beautiful twinkly lights in shop windows in a array of colours, and that tingle of excitement is in the air.

You clearly want your Christmas your Christmas to be fantastic for you and your loved ones, so this article will help you out a bit with this tricky and sometimes delicate part of the festive season. It makes no difference if your significant other is into Alpinestars or Tiffany, there are rules you need to follow when buying them a present for Christmas to keep them feeling happy and loved on the day.

• Do your research – whether you need to find out those all-important sizes, preferred colours, or even to get basic ideas, you need to do your research. Obviously keep it quiet as much as you can as you don’t want your intended recipient to find out before, but ask trusted friends and relatives for that basic information and you can’t go wrong.
• Budget – Sort out your present buying budget before you start shopping, we know how tempting it is to just get carried away and start shopping thinking it’ll all be okay. It won’t. Make a plan of what you intend to spend on each person and also which pay cheques they are each going to come out of (it makes so much sense to do this).
• Use your memory – Never repeat presents, nothing says you haven’t really thought about it like giving someone something you’ve given them before, or(much worse) giving them a present they gave YOU three years ago. Keep a post-it somewhere with what you bought everyone last year and what they gave you, it’ll be a lifesaver.
• Think about meaning – sometimes people rate the thought put into a gift more than the actual gift itself. Really think about what means a lot to your special person: colours, dreams, ambitions, favourite places to holiday, favourite foods etc. Even if you really get it wrong, your recipient is much more likely to appreciate the gesture if he/she thinks you’ve made an effort and actually thought about what they might like. They’ll forgive you for getting it wrong.