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Marketing / Presentation skills

Presentation skills: What makes a great presenter?

Being able to communicate effectively is a key part of business success, making the ability to confidently deliver a speech or presentation is an important skill. Here are a few tips that may help improve your presentation skills.

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While presenting at the Asia Pacific Speakers Summit in Singapore, I had the opportunity to meet some great speakers from around the world, plus I learnt about how to grow my business.

The audience and I were most impressed by the presenters who not only imparted relevant information but did it in an interesting and entertaining way.

So what makes a great presenter? The number one characteristic that shines through is confidence. Acquiring this quality alone will put many ordinary presenters into the “good” category. What could you do to improve your presentation skills and go that extra step forward?

Awareness of what presentation skills work for you and what doesn’t

You need, too, the willingness to build on those foundations. Feedback is incredibly important whether you tape or record yourself and analyse your own performance or have someone else critique for you. But here’s the catch. Most of us only dwell on what didn’t work, try to fix those problems and don’t work on their strengths. By recognising what works for you, acknowledging and building on that base will give you the confidence to improve and become a great presenter.

Does practice makes perfect?

In my view, practice also makes permanent. It’s important to try new things, experiment, take risks and most importantly to add variety to your presentation. Variety can be built into your presentation through storytelling, humour, use of props, audiovisuals, group exercises or audience involvement. Variety in your voice – try soft, loud, fast and slow. Try a range of techniques to keep your audience energised and interested.

"The number one characteristic that shines through is confidence. "

Want more articles like this? Check out the  presentation skills section.

Have a clear outcome in mind

What do you want the audience to take away from your presentation? Remember it’s about them and how they feel. It could simply be you want them to feel comfortable with you to provide a particular service, or you’d like to convince them your product is the best on the market. You may want to motivate them to do something or inspire or challenge them to try something new.

Organise your speech into “chunks”

This is as opposed to trying to memorise or read a 30 minute speech…or a three hour one! If you have several chunks that deliver a particular message, it is easier for you and your audience to remember. As an example 30 minutes could be broken up as follows:

  • A five minute opener with a story;
  • Three chunks of seven minutes where you talk about three different points using some variety while delivering those messages.
  • Then a closer of four minutes perhaps to give out handouts or take a question or two then finish big with a call to action.

Use your body wisely

It’s okay to jump up and down and be energetic if that is your style. Many of you would be familiar with Anthony Robbins or other motivating style of presentation and observed how they use their bodies. At other times a speech delivered with poise and stillness from a lectern is appropriate. What isn’t appropriate is distracting movement such as pacing up and down for no reason, gesticulating wildly for no purpose, rocking back and forth or playing with your hair (women) thrusting hands in your pockets (men) or scratching or picking at imaginary fluff on your jacket.

These are just a few of my observations and presentation skills I’ve learned while practicing to become a great presenter. I hope these tips help you next time you need to make that great client presentation.

Sue Currie

is the managing director of Sue Currie Communications, a company providing successful solutions to businesses, organisations and independent professionals on enhancing image, reputation and brand.

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