Many people would like to improve their presentation skills at work. However, even if it's something that has been part of our lives since we started studying, it isn't very easy for some people to talk smoothly and talk with eloquence. An estimated 75% of the worldwide adult population deals with speech anxiety. It is also known as “fear of public speaking,” or if you’d like a fancier term, you can call it “glossophobia”.
Preparing for a presentation is something different than practicing ways of improving presentation skills. There's a keyword here: "practice." Suppose you'd like to become good at something you'll need to practice frequently to keep it polished.
If you’d like to learn how to improve on presentation skills, here we have ten ways you can use to start progressing in your journey. Keep in mind that learning to improve your presence can take a while.
Why Do We Suffer from Speech Anxiety?
Before we start, it is important to get to know ourselves. Thus, it is important to know the source of this fear of public speaking. Even if you think you don’t suffer from it, remember that anxiety manifests differently in every individual.
The thing is that there isn't a specific reason for this fear to exist. It is completely normal. Even the most experienced speakers will likely be nervous before speaking to a wide audience. People that seem to “rock” every presentation have learned how to use their anxiety in a favorable way to continue delivering a top-notch performance.
How can we do this?
A Clinical Psychological Science study revealed that we could experience positive changes if we "switch" the way we think about stress. It can have effects on our psyche and physique.
It may sound quite scary to have everyone in the office conference room looking at you. Many people feel like people are trying to point out every small mistake they’re making, but the reality is different. If you’d like to improve your presentation skills at work, you must change your way of viewing everything and start believing that the audience wants you to succeed. Even if it doesn't seem like it, people present during the conference will root for you and expect you to give your best.
You will feel more anxious at the beginning of the presentation. However, as you continue speaking, you’ll start feeling how it diminishes and how you’re able to deliver a better speech than you thought.
How do you reach that point? It requires practice, but there we have ten activities to improve presentation skills at work or any other occasion that requires public speaking.
10 Ways of Improving Presentation Skills
There are tons of communication skills for managers that you should know if you’re in a higher position within the organization chart. However, if you’d like to improve business presentation skills, you should keep in mind that it takes more than learning how to communicate. The importance of emotional intelligence in leadership is something that we should never overlook. That is why many leaders like to include emotional intelligence group activities within their business schedule.
Now that you’re more in context, here we have ten ways to improve your presentation skills.
1. Identify your goals
As mentioned, if we'd like to improve at something, we should get to know ourselves first. You can start by identifying your goals regarding your next presentation and the ways it will impact your audience. A presentation can serve multiple purposes, such as sharing information or giving updates to your audience regarding the business.
Once you’ve identified where you want to go, you can start directing your presentation towards that path.
2. Include more visuals than text in the presentation
If you’d like the audience to be interested and engaged in what you’re saying, you need to make sure that your presentation is well-designed. If it has abundant text and lacks attractive visuals (images, colors), people are likely to withdraw their attention from you and focus on the screen stead.
Your slides should be a complement to your presentation, and you should use them in your favor to help yourself through the whole speech.
3. Remember to make pauses
Here is another tip for your to improve presentation skills. We're likely to speak faster when we're nervous. After all, we want this to end as soon as possible. However, if you do this, you will run out of breath pretty quickly, and that may increase your anxiety.
Don't be afraid of taking your time to deliver your speech. Pauses can help you emphasize those points that you'd like to prioritize and will also give the whole presentation a more conversational tone. It is also helpful if you're feeling like you're going out of control.
4. Include personal stories or some humor in your presentation
Storytelling is an excellent way of making a presentation more interesting. You can use this resource at the beginning of the presentation, for instance, to draw your audience's attention as you continue speaking. Most people don't feel nervous while sharing personal stories, so it can also help you reduce your anxiety levels.
5. Make the presentation straightforward
Don’t cover all the material you’ve found. While planning the speech, you should prioritize certain pieces of information and leave behind others that you consider too trivial for it.
6. Welcome questions and comments!
Here is a good way to improve presentation skills. You can make your presentation feel more conversational and interesting if you allow people to ask questions as you continue talking. It is an excellent way of making the whole process more interactive, especially if you're covering a complex topic.
7. Maintain eye contact with the audience
If people perceive that you’re taking notice of them, you’re likely to receive feedback from them. People are likely to look anywhere but the audience when they’re nervous, but if you keep your eyes at least on a certain person, it will be easier for you to handle the rest of the speech.
8. Prepare yourself
Preparation is always beneficial for you to improve presentation skills. You don't know what's going to happen during the presentation. Be it a technological process or any other inconvenience. It is always important to have a backup plan. This way, you will be able to continue with your speech regardless of what happens.
9. Remember to eat before your speech!
If you’re feeling nervous, perhaps having a light snack before the presentation can help you ease your mind. A good alternative can be physical activity, as exercising helps your body release adrenaline and cortisol, which will make you relax with ease.
You only become good at something when you practice. Thus, engaging in practices – especially in the same place where you’ll deliver the speech – can help you get familiarized with the environment and make you feel less nervous while you’re speaking.
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