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The Keys to Giving a Great Presentation

One of the most important parts of influencing others is getting your point across in a compelling and interesting way. Some people find giving presentations easy, but it sets most people on edge. In fact, according to Forbes, 10% of people are so petrified of public speaking that it’s simply impossible for them to do. Another 10% enjoy it. That leaves most of us, at 80%, with sweaty palms and nervous smiles when offering a presentation of any sort.

If you’re one of the 80%, you can still offer a fantastic presentation by using those nerves to convey the importance of your message. Talking in front of a crowd can be terrifying, but, as Harvard Business Review points out, it offers a powerful method for getting your message across:

“Never underestimate the power of great communication. It can help you land the job of your dreams, attract investors to back your idea, or elevate your stature within your organization.” 

Here are some tips for becoming a great communicator and giving a compelling presentation.

Do Your Research

While you may be confident in your field and your position, knowing the information and data you have to present forward and backward is the first step to confidence when speaking in front of people. When you deliver your presentation, you should do it with the goal of sharing what you know about the topic with others and working with them toward learning even more.

Less Is More

While it’s important to establish your credentials, saying more with less is far more impactful when you want to make a memorable impression on your audience. Some of the most influential speeches and documents in history have been incredibly short, so use this as inspiration when developing your next presentation.

Capitalize on Visual Memory

Humans are visual creatures. While a presentation audience member may only remember about 10% of the text seen during a presentation, that audience member will retain about 65% of the information conveyed with images, pictures, and visual aids. This pictorial superiority effect can be an incredibly potent tool when you want to deliver a powerful presentation.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use a Bit of Humor

In a professional setting, leveraging humor in a presentation requires delicate calculation. Add just enough and you’ll keep the audience interested and engaged. Humor can keep your audience alert as long as you keep things professional, tasteful, and aligned with your presentation.

Keep Things Natural

You certainly want to prepare for your presentation, but you don’t want to over-prepare, and sound completely rehearsed. Take time to review your notes and the key points you need to touch upon during the presentation, but don’t fall into the trap of reciting your presentation off a stack of index cards.

Find Help When You Need It

These are just a few basic tips to help you deliver better presentations. Susan Ascher is an entrepreneur, leadership coach, and corporate speaker, and author who can help you develop your professional skills, including presenting your ideas to others. Contact Susan today for more information about how she can help you give more polished presentations.

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Delivering a Memorable Presentation in Four Steps


Most people fear public speaking. In fact, more people fear public speaking than fear death.

Work-related presentations are often the most nerve-wracking of all, but they don’t have to be. Good preparation helps you feel confident in your material, your abilities, and the response you’ll receive from an audience.

Grab the Audience’s Attention

Start your presentation with something memorable. Avoid phrases like, “Let’s get started.” These make you look uncomfortable and uncertain about what you want to say. Tell a related anecdote. Ask a series of questions that will make your audience think, “Yes, I feel this way,” “Yes, I need this,” or “Me, too.” Sometimes you can begin with a joke or a somewhat inflammatory statement like, “I hate committee meetings.” However, use these sparingly. Read the audience members. If you don’t think they’ll respond well, then they probably won’t.

presentation workshopsLet the Audience Focus on You, Not the Screen

Since our society is so technologically driven, presenters are tempted to rely on PowerPoint, videos, and other computer-based aids. Resist this urge. If your audience does nothing but stare at a screen, they will get bored. Some of them might fall asleep. If you must use notes, consider paper handouts, perhaps with blanks to fill in or space for questions and comments. This helps the audience interact with you.

Research First

If you don’t know what you’re talking about, your audience will figure it out quickly. Do your homework, even if you’re comfortable with the topic. Let’s say you’ve given presentations on Myers-Briggs personality types for years. Refresh your memory, so you don’t accidentally call an Artisan an Idealist. If you use statistics in your presentations, always check to ensure those numbers haven’t changed. This builds the audience’s confidence and trust.

Keep It Short

Many audiences dread speakers, assuming they’ll drone on forever. Smash that expectation with a short speech. Beforehand, choose two to four points you want to hit and make sure you cover them within a reasonable period. If you have a time limit, respect it. Going over your allotted time affects everyone’s schedule.

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