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Learn how to overcome common presentation difficulties and discover valuable tips for creating modern and engaging PowerPoint presentations. Enhance your skills, captivate your audience, and deliver impactful presentations that leave a lasting impression.
We’ve all been there. Racing pulse, rapid heartbeat, dry mouth and trembling hands. These are all symptoms of stage fright or performance anxiety. When you have a presentation, you naturally want to give your best, and the thought that you may not be able to do that can make you anxious.
But speech anxiety is only half the story. Have you ever finished a presentation and felt so bad because you just knew you didn't do so well? I have. I would spend hours after the performance beating myself up and pointing out what I could have done better. That’s the other half.
Here’s one thing you should note about presentation anxiety: everyone has it. Yes, no matter how skilled they are, every speaker has performance anxiety before a presentation. The degree differs, but it’s there.
So, you see, you’re not alone. What you can do, though, is to master useful tips that would equip you to deliver more compelling and effective presentations. And that’s what this article is about. Let’s dig in.
Why you have difficulties with presentation
A wise man once told me that to solve a problem, you have to get to the root. Attempting to solve a problem without dealing with the cause is like cutting off branches from a tree in an attempt to cut the tree. It’s a futile exercise. As long as the root is there, the tree will keep growing.
Here are common reasons why people struggle with making presentations. Check if yours is there.
Fear of failure
We’ve all seen great speakers. We saw how their audience applauded after their presentations. This image of the ideal speaker or presenter is finely tucked somewhere in our subconscious and whenever we have a presentation, it sneaks out to remind us that we can’t be as good. We look at ourselves and we just know we don't measure up.
This fear of failure is a major reason people flop at creating presentations. They feel nothing they do can be good enough. So, there’s nothing they do afterwards that will make much difference because before they started, they’d already failed.
Fear of public speaking
Not everyone is Martin Luther King. Some people find it extremely difficult to speak in public. They can speak all they want if they’re with family or friends, but they melt when they’re before any large gathering of people they’re not familiar with.
Many introverts fall into this category. Speaking in public or presenting is stepping out of their comfort zone. Surprisingly, many extroverts also belong to this group. They’re the life of the party and are usually chatty and lively. But when it's time for a presentation, they’re tongue-tied and short of words.
If you’re not used to making presentations and you’re called to do it, you may suffer from performance anxiety. It’s like telling the office nerd to make a presentation to the whole staff. This guy is buried in his computer eight hours a day, barely taking a break to eat or chat.
You can’t compare him with the marketing guy whose main job is to persuade prospects to buy the company’s products. Therefore, we can't rule out lack of experience as an important reason people struggle with presentations.
Past experience trauma is real. If you’ve flopped at a presentation in high school, chances are you'll be traumatized by that experience for a long time unless you do something about it. You’ll dread any situation requiring you to speak to a crowd.
Many years down the line, if you have to pitch a product or service to a client or present a report of a training to colleagues, the memory of that failed outing will come rushing back, giving you presentation anxiety.
Lack of technical skills
You’ve probably seen picture-perfect presentations with brilliant slides and animations that have left you intimidated. If you don't know the first thing about creating slides, designing powerpoint presentations or even controlling a projector, you will struggle with presenting. Your lack of technical skills will always stand in your way.
7 tips for more compelling and effective presentations
Kindly note that the tips here are not only for those struggling with making presentations. If you’re a pro at presentations and you’re not getting the right results, you need to take a front seat too. The whole point of creating engaging presentations is to get results. If you’re making pitches and they’re not yielding results, you need to restrategize with these tips.
- Work on your psyche
Most limitations people have with public speaking or presenting start in their minds. You can tackle the fear of failure, fear of public speaking, inexperience and bad experience by working on your mind. Yes, deal with those demons first. Tell yourself you have all it takes to make a great presentation.
Also, your presentation doesn't have to be perfect. While it‘s good to aim for the ideal, you must know that no presentation is perfect. Just prepare well and give it your best shot. And even if you don't perform up to expectations, it means there’s room for improvement, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The best speakers didn't get there in a day.
- Understand your audience
How do you even communicate with an audience you don't understand? If you do, you’ll end up with an ineffective presentation. Research your audience to gain valuable insights that will enable you to tailor your message to their needs.
Analyze their motivations and expectations for attending your presentation. Ask yourself what their challenges are and what solutions they’re seeking. When you align your presentation with your audience’s goals and desires, you grab their attention and build a connection with them.
- Put in the work
The easiest way to have a presentation disaster is by a lack of preparation. People are gathered to listen to you because they believe you’re an authority on the subject. They want to see depth, skills and expertise. Now, imagine giving them a shallow presentation with surface-level information. Their disappointment will be evident.
On the other hand, when you aim to impress your audience with well-put-together daunting facts and figures, you’ll see the awed looks on their faces. Preparation gives you the needed confidence to make a successful presentation. Don't underestimate it.
- Master the use of presentation software
This isn't the 1920s. There’s no excuse for making presentations with sheets of paper anymore. Now that remote work is the in-thing, you can use video presentation software to record your presentations and send them to your audience or even upload them online. Read more to learn about video presentation software and how you can use them to improve your presentations.
- Practice before your presentation
No matter how skilled you are in presenting, it’s always good to rehearse before an outing. This practice builds your confidence and helps you have a smooth delivery. Work on your timing, transitions and delivery styles. Also, pay attention to your body language and voice tone. When you rehearse, you see areas that need improvement and quickly fix up.
- Use storytelling and emotional appeal
Everyone loves a good story, including that stern-looking investor. Storytelling is a tool used by expert speakers because it helps connect with people on an emotional level. When you infuse stories into your presentation, you tap into emotions that create a lasting impact and memorable experience for your audience.
The use of personal stories and experiences is very effective in engaging your audience. Research shows that 63% of attendees remember stories after a presentation, while only 5% remember statistics. That’s not at all surprising. Stories and anecdotes resonate with your audience and make your presentation relatable. Likewise, sharing your stories projects authenticity and builds trust with your audience.
- Engage and interact with your audience during your presentation
A good presentation is not a one-sided monologue. You must interact with your audience. Create opportunities for them to contribute to the conversation. Pause from time to time for them to ask questions and give you useful feedback. Try fun activities with your audience. Also, ask open-ended questions that will stimulate thoughtful responses.
Be more deliberate about your presentations and get remarkable results
There are presentations and there are result-oriented presentations. And you need a certain level of intentionality to make compelling and effective presentations. When making pitches, what you give is what you get. If you put in shoddy work, you’ll get crappy results. But if you put to use time-tested tips like the ones here, you’ll get excellent outcomes.
To make exceptional presentations, deal with your demons, understand your audience, put in the work and master presentation software. Don't forget to rehearse before your presentation, employ storytelling and engage your audience. All the best.
Moyofade Ipadeola is a Content Strategist, UX Writer and Editor. Witty, she loves personal development and helping people grow. Mo, as she’s fondly called, is fascinated by all things tech. She can be reached on Linkedin.
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