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Presentation Skills

Presentations Skills

Meaning, Importance and Improvement tips


Presentation Skills - Steve Jobs

The age-old Mac vs Windows battle probably comes down to just one little sartorial detail – a black turtle-neck sweater and a pair of blue jeans.

That’s the signature attire – and only outfit – that the former Apple CEO ever donned in public.

Steve Jobs was not only fanatical about delivering products that were nothing less than perfect, he was equally obsessive about the clothes he wore. Or didn’t wear.

Are we saying Windows could have been a far superior operating system if Bill Gates had paid a little more – or less – attention to his wardrobe?

While the jury is still out on that one, there are other global CEOs like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and even the CEO of the most powerful democracy on the planet, Barack Obama, who might agree.

Zuckerberg, almost always seen in grey T-shirt and a pair of jeans, and Obama, always spotted in a grey or blue suit, believe that with the mind-boggling number and scale of decisions they have to make every single day, they need to eliminate ‘frivolous distractions’ such as deciding on what to wear or what to eat on a daily basis.

We’re not kidding. It’s called ‘decision fatigue’, and with billions of people to ‘serve’ daily, these powerful men are channelling every last ounce of their energy into better serving their followers, virtually or otherwise.

We can argue that Zuckerberg or Obama’s style statements are no more than just that – style statements or an image building exercise, considering they are among the most recognisable people in the world.

But the inescapable fact is that their signature sartorial sense defines a part of who they are and how they present themselves.

What Are Presentation Skills?

How you present yourself is a key factor in influencing how people perceive you. But that’s only one aspect of presentation. The other, more formal aspect, is making a presentation before an audience, which calls for a different set of skills.

As a manager, you will be called upon to deliver a presentation sooner or later. You will need to present details of schemes, projects and plans to your bosses, your own department or other teams in your organisation.

Your presentation skills also need to be tack sharp if you plan on addressing peers in your industry when delivering a lecture or a seminar.

Effective Presentation Skills

At the risk of sounding like we’re promoting Steve Jobs – we are not – we are turning to the former Apple CEO again for his legendary presentation skills. In fact, his annual Macworld Conference was not only one of the hottest events in the digital world, it was eagerly awaited by consumers around the world.

Here are five ways to make your presentation sizzle.

1. Tell A Story

Jobs sure knew how to dazzle – and it wasn’t his signature black turtleneck that did the trick! He was a master story teller, and with supremely effective presentation skills, he kept his audience riveted.

When you organise your material for your own presentation, make sure you build a narrative and not allow the various aspects of your presentation to remain disjointed.

2. Put On A Show

Nothing engages the audience more than mixing it up to keep it fresh. While always staying meaningful and relevant, you could invite a guest on stage for a few minutes, call up a video on YouTube, use a visual metaphor to make a point… the options are infinite.

The point is, get creative.

3. Include A ‘Wow’ Moment

Remember that moment in 2008, when Steve Jobs unveiled the ultra-slim MacBook Air during the Macworld Conference? For those who don’t, here’s a brief refresher. The Apple CEO first discussed the essential features – weight, size, thickness, keyboard, performance, etc – of thin laptops made by the competition.

Then he did something that took your breath away. He walked up to the podium, picked up a manila envelope, opened it and then slid out the new MacBook Air! The showman had done it again!

4. Show Your Enthusiasm

The last thing you want to do is slip into ‘presentation mode’. Stay casual, stay cool. And definitely don’t spew jargon.

Effective presentation skills mean you show enthusiasm or how passionate you are about your subject. If you don’t, how can you expect your audience to be enthused?

5. Dazzle them with your Charisma

Some leaders just have it; others can, well, work on it. Deliver your presentation with poise, confidence and definitely don’t get thrown when glitches arise.

Should the projector get stuck or you pull up the wrong slide, use humour to tide over the moment. Great verbal / oral presentation skills are a part of being a charismatic speaker and they can make or break your presentation.

But, remember, body language that compliments your verbal cues is equally important to keeping your audience engaged.

How To Improve Your Presentation Skills

The five tips listed above will undoubtedly put that zing into your presentation and make it memorable. But there are some basics you must master first.

1. Research Your Subject

The fact that you are making a presentation itself suggests that you know your subject well but researching it thoroughly will further enhance your delivery.

Nothing turns off the audience more than an ill-prepared speaker.

2. Know Your Audience

Are you addressing your peers at a seminar or making a presentation for new recruits in your organisation? The language and depth of your presentation will be determined by the nature of your audience. Always pitch accurately and you will keep them hooked.

3. Use Visual Aids

Visuals like slides can be powerful tools to guide your audience through your presentation and help them, quite literally, imagine your idea.

Use them like pegs rather than a substitute for chunks of your lecture!

Get creative with your slides and don’t hesitate to seek help preparing them because they can form an integral part of your presentation.

4. Decode Numbers

Statistical data can do one of two things – turn off your audience like nothing else can or draw them in like nothing else can.

Numbers always tell a story but never toss them around carelessly. Use numbers sparingly and effectively, always to provide context to your subject matter.

5. Rehearse

Practice your presentation and delivery, ideally with the aids you plan to use. Cue cards are a subtle and handy prop, so don’t hesitate to use them.

Then rehearse in front of a mirror or a friend, or even videograph your practice sessions, so that you get valuable and accurate feedback. And, oh, never, ever, read out your speech.

Looking for more? Here are 9 Tricks for Effective Presentations.

Happy presenting!

Image credit: Crashmaster
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