Picture this: You’ve psyched yourself up before your big presentation, mentally going through your notes to go out there and impress your audience with your killer project, when doubt creeps in. What if you mess up? What if you put the audience to sleep? Should you have spent more time practicing? Whether you’re presenting a presentation to hundreds of people at a conference or to a small group of individuals, many presenters wonder how to present their important projects, and they feel nervous before going in front of an audience.
Don’t worry about how to present a presentation any longer. However high or low the stakes are for delivering your next project presentation, these six tips will build your confidence, guide you on how to present well, and equip you to engage your audience.
1. Establish your credibility
Your material won’t carry much weight and you won’t impress your audience if you can’t convince them that you know your stuff. You may know that you’re qualified and experienced, but your audience may not. And even if you do have some credibility already, you still need to maintain it throughout your presentation.
Establishing your credibility starts the second you enter the room. So, you should make sure that you do the following:
- Dress appropriately for the audience and the situation so that your wardrobe doesn’t distract from you or your presentation.
- Convey confidence in your body language by standing up straight, looking your audience in the eye, and avoiding tics like wringing your hands or clicking your pen.
- Early in your presentation, establish your credibility by explaining what qualifies you in presenting your project and participating in this discussion.
- Polish every aspect of your presentation beforehand, from sourcing high-quality visuals to practicing how to present your verbal delivery.
By taking the time to prepare and communicate your qualifications, you will be able to demonstrate credibility and appear trustworthy in front of your audience.
2. Make the most of space
How to give a captivating presentation? Fight the urge to stand still. Moving around a stage, classroom, or conference room will make you appear more in control of the situation and more confident in your presentation. Also, it will keep your audience engaged by making your presentation more dynamic. At the same time, this doesn’t mean that you should pace incessantly — too much movement can be distracting. You can practice in front of a mirror to see how much movement will be enough for a good presentation flow without overdoing it.
Remember, your body language also tells a story even if you are not talking. If you want to appear more confident on stage, discover 9 secrets of confident body language.
3. Don’t be afraid of silence
It’s tempting to fill any gaps of silence by speaking constantly, but doing this means you aren’t giving your audience enough time to internalize what you’re presenting. Talking too much and too quickly can also betray your nervousness. Allowing for some silence, on the other hand, will help your audience absorb and retain more information. Also, taking pauses will help you organize your thoughts and calm yourself down if you are feeling anxious.
While it may take some trial and error to properly gauge how much silence is too much, you should always include some quiet moments in your presentation. Pause after presenting a big problem or your unique solution. Let the weight of that significance rest on your audience. Allow some of your presentation visuals to speak for themselves when you show a meaningful image or important graph. With practice, silence can become an important ally in impressing your audience. Not only you will appear more confident on stage but you will also feel more collected when presenting.
4. Don’t dwell on mistakes
Mistakes happen. Laptops freeze, equipment fails, or you might forget that line that you practiced thirty times in front of the mirror. Your audience, however, is less likely to judge you based on your mistakes and more likely to evaluate how you recover. If you stumble over your words or your presentation glitches, don’t dwell on them. And remember, the audience is on your side. Whenever a technical glitch occurs, simply address the situation with a positive or humorous line to relieve the tension in the room.
What you want to do in any scenario is push through and continue. This also means that you shouldn’t rely on your technology so heavily that everything falls apart when something doesn’t work as you hoped it would. If you want to feel even more prepared, you can even practice how to react in different situations. Think about a few phrases you can say or what you can do in case your slides are not showing. The more prepared you will be, the more relaxed you will feel during the presentation.
5. Own the visual element
Visual elements can often make or break a presentation. They either make your project findings stand out or fade into the background. Present a presentation using an interactive presentation tool like Prezi. It can make your abstract ideas concrete by synthesizing and displaying images, ideas, data, and more. But whenever you bring any visual element into a presentation, remember this: Presentation content should be supplemental to your spoken material, not the main act. You shouldn’t be standing with your back facing half the audience, reading your presentation verbatim and hoping your audience doesn’t fall asleep.
To help you use visuals to enhance your presentation and message, you’ll want to make the most of all Prezi has to offer. Convert your original PowerPoint slides into a dynamic Prezi presentation that gives you personalized control over how you present. Use Prezi’s conversational presenting format to allow your audience to guide the presentation and jump straight to only the most relevant topics. Apply consistent styles, fonts, and colors to give your presentation a sense of cohesion. Use only high-quality images. A poorly designed and messy visual design will damage your credibility and distract you from your message.
6. Hook your audience quickly
You won’t be able to impress your audience if they’re drifting off to sleep halfway through your presentation. You need to engage your audience from the start and maintain that attention throughout your project presentation. Think of the beginning of your presentation as the first page of a book. After that first line or that first paragraph, would your audience keep reading? Hook your audience by presenting the problem your discussion will attempt to solve or by sharing a personal anecdote. You can also start with a shocking statistic or a rhetorical question. Tie your discussion to current events or to other important issues surrounding your broader conversation.
Once you’ve hooked your audience, maintain their attention by engaging in a dialogue with them. If it’s appropriate for the situation, ask questions and get your audience to interact with you. Give them a prompt that they can discuss with those around them. Leave time for questions. If you can make your audience feel like they are part of your presentation, you’ll better maintain their engagement and your message is more likely to stick.
Don’t let stress about how to present a presentation keep you from impressing your audience. Combine these tips with a high-quality Prezi presentation and you’ll engage people, drive your message home, and be more confident the next time you’re asked to present.