8 Ways to Improve Your Presentation Skills

Whether you are a student, an educator, a business professional, or a small business owner, presenting to an audience is something you will have to do many times throughout your life. Knowing how to deliver an idea is a beneficial skill, no matter what line of work you are in. That said, speaking in front of an audience is oftentimes one of the most feared tasks. For those not born with a natural eloquence, public speaking and presenting can be remarkably nerve-racking. The good news is that like any other skill, presenting is something that can be improved with practice. Here are just a few of the best tips to help you improve your presentation skills. 

1. Practice!

Just as you would any other sport or skill, if you want to be a better presenter you have to make time to practice. Rehearse your presentation multiple times in order to improve. Practice in front of a mirror, in front of a mock audience, and even record yourself. Ask for genuine feedback from friends and family. Also, review the recording and be mindful of your pace, tone, body language, and delivery. Make note of any improvements that need to be made and keep practicing until you feel confident about your performance. 

2. Attend Other Presentations

It can be very helpful to see other presenters and make note of what they did and did not do well. Pay attention to things like their tone, body language, eye contact, movement, audience reaction, and visual tools. Was the presentation successful and engaging? Did the presenter connect with the audience? This can be an effective method for improving your own presentation skills. 

3. Know Your Audience

Before you begin preparing the content of your presentation, consider who the message is intended for. Learn as much as you can about the audience and their needs or challenges. This will help you align your message with their specific needs and determine your choice of words, level of information, and motivation. 

4. Know Your Stuff

Research and prepare until you become an expert on your topic. The more knowledge you have on your topic, the more confident you will appear when presenting about it. You want your audience to see you as an authority in your field so be sure you know your information backwards and forward.

5. Be Mindful of Body Language

Practicing confident body language is just as important as practicing the words you speak. When your body language is demonstrating confidence, your audience will see you as credible. Pay attention to things like eye contact, posture, hand gestures, voice inflection, and tone. Body language is a powerful tool that can help you communicate emotion and connect with your audience. 

6. Attend Workshops or Training

Public speaking and presenting is not an easy skill to master so it can be helpful to attend professional workshops, training, or even social groups such as Toastmasters in order to learn more and practice your skills. This allows you to learn from more experienced presenters and also practice in a safe environment where you can receive the feedback you need to improve your skills and gain confidence. 

7. Engage the Audience

Oftentimes people dread attending presentations because they feel like a one-sided conversation. It can be boring to sit and listen passively for an hour as someone throws information at you. Presentations, however, don’t have to be a one-dimensional experience. Welcome and encourage audience participation by asking questions, taking a poll or survey, telling a story, or playing an icebreaker. This will boost engagement and make attendees feel part of the conversation. 

8. Take Deep Breaths

When we are nervous, our muscles tighten, our hearts pound, and we may even hold our breath. Before stepping on stage, take several minutes to practice deep breathing exercises. This will help relax your muscles and deliver oxygen to the brain. This helps to calm your nerves and reduce anxiety.