Professional Development

Ditch the notes and smile: Eight hacks to keep your presentations interesting

Emma Bannister /

presentation

Founder and chief executive of presentation studio Emma Bannister. Source: Supplied.

Do you know the secret ingredient to a killer presentation?

Confidence. Every great presentation has a foundation of confidence.

But, if the thought of presenting has your knees knocking, never fear, there are some tricks of the trade you can learn. By harnessing your passion and tapping into some simple communication skills, you can manage fear and pull off a winning presentation with confidence.

1. Pitch your passion

What are you most passionate about? Imagine speaking to a room of people about this subject. Chances are, your passion would override any fear. If you feel passionately about something, you know how important it is for others to hear about it. A presentation which is centred on your passion is the best way to appear confident. Passion delivers an authentic and powerful presentation — bypassing nervousness along the way.

2. Practice makes perfect

The less prepared you are, the less confident you will be. Confident speakers know their material, inside out. Try to recreate the environment you will be delivering in — try practising the presentation in the space, with a microphone and in front of a trial audience. Rehearse, rehearse and when you think you know it … rehearse again!

3. Smile

This is the easiest and most effective tool available. Simply smile, and feel the confidence surge.

This works in two ways. Firstly, when we smile endorphins are released into our brain, relaxing us. Secondly, it is difficult not to appear confident when you are genuinely smiling, and it helps create a connection with your audience. These factors work in combination to make you look and feel confident.

4. Speak your language

Your presentation should sound like you. If you are stumbling over words or phrases you would never normally use, you are unlikely to feel confident. Make sure your presentation is written in a way you feel comfortable with. You will be most confident when you are your most natural.

5. Ditch the notes

For nervous speakers, notes and slides can be a crutch. However, if you’re not feeling confident, fully scripted notes can be your own worst enemy. Relying on your notes means you look unsure of yourself and don’t make an impactful connection with your audience. Instead, try to limit yourself to dot-point notes and only use them as a prompt.

6. Mindset change

Positive psychology teaches the power of visualisation. To become a confident presenter, imagine you already are one. Before your presentation, visualise yourself succeeding. This acts as a scientifically proven version of ‘fake it till you make it’. Your mindset is half the battle. Thinking positively goes a long way in boosting your confidence.

7. Details count

Confidence is found in the little things. Feeling comfortable in what you are wearing, knowing the space and strategically placing a few friends in the audience can all help to boost your confidence. Even choosing your favourite colours to accompany your presentation can go a long way in making sure you feel in control. Do whatever it takes to create an atmosphere of confidence.

8. Get inspiration

If you want to become a great presenter, get to know other great presenters. Take time to watch your favourite communicators and make note of what techniques they use. Maybe they utilise body language in a particular way or use humour to connect to their audience. Whatever it is, take this as inspiration and make it your own.

Confidence is rarely effortless. Even the best presenters have techniques they use to create confidence. Being passionate about your topic, as well as knowing and practising your content, will go a long way in creating a confident presentation.

Don’t rely heavily on your notes, instead smile and emphasise the personal connection with your audience. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback and learn from your mistakes.

Most of all, remember that confidence is a skill like any other. It takes time and practice to become a confident presenter.

NOW READ: How Presentation Studio founder Emma Bannister created a $2.5 million business by helping others speak in public

NOW READ: Six tips for presenting tough information to staff

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Emma Bannister

Emma is the founder and chief executive officer of Presentation Studio, APAC’s largest presentation communication agency, and author of the book Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations.

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