The ability to deliver a captivating presentation, whether at meetings, investor conferences or in a more personal one-on-one setting is challenging for most. Even those who are naturally gifted still need to practice to be their best.
Don’t make the mistake of spending inordinate amounts of time developing a PowerPoint presentation, and little time preparing what you are going to say and practicing it. If this is the case, chances are you won’t exude the confidence and poise necessary to effectively connect with your audience.
Whatever the format of your next engagement, here are four important delivery tips for you to think about:
- Relax and don’t send a nervous signal. Nervous speakers will fiddle or fidget with anything. The reason is that many people do not know what to do with their hands. Some put their hands in their pockets, making them look stiff. Others fiddle with the keys in their pocket, a pen, a wedding ring or other jewelry.
- Be cognizant of your movement. Try getting out from behind the podium for a more dynamic speaking style. Some who eschew the podium stand in one spot and some walk around. Just make sure you aren’t just pacing back and forth repeatedly or shifting nervously from side to side.
- Practice good posture. One goal when presenting is to have a good presence. If you slouch, you won’t have the same credibility as someone who is standing up straight and appears to be very confident. When sitting with a table in front of you, it is best to lean forward. Once you assume that position, though, you should maintain it. For instance, if you’re leaning forward for most of a presentation, and then someone asks you a question and you suddenly lean back, that can be a negative body language signal that you’re uncomfortable with the question.
- Prepare and do not read directly from a script. Speakers are expected to know their material and to be an expert in what they’re talking about. So from an audience perspective, one would question why a script is needed. After all, anyone can read a script. And if you are presenting on your topic of expertise, you want people to understand that you’re an expert. At the same time, you do need to prepare your material in advance. And to be a great speaker, you need to practice that material enough to sound natural. You need to have something prepared and then practice it enough so that it sounds like a very dynamic you.
Remember, strong public speaking and presentation skills are just as important as the content. Through great delivery, your messages will be heard and you will generate the credibility and influence you are seeking.
David Calusdian, executive vice president and partner at Sharon Merrill, oversees the implementation of investor relations programs, coaches senior executives in presentation skills and provides strategic counsel to clients on numerous communications issues such as corporate disclosure, proxy proposals, shareholder activism and earnings guidance.