Your audience can sense lack of confidence from miles away. To ensure your message has the intended result, you must show strength in your delivery. Of course, it helps if you are knowledgeable regarding the subject, but expertise alone is insufficient to successful presentations.
Your non-verbal skills make a huge difference. When you walk to the front of the room, many eyes are fixated on you. In other words, you are evaluated from the minute you are announced to the participants.
#1: Don’t drag your feet. Get a confident walk about you.
Get excited about the presentation. This doesn’t mean that you are silly and loud. Instead, you walk briskly to your position, and you keep your head up and shoulders back. This confident demeanor will get you going in the right direction.
When officiating Div. I men’s basketball, I walked onto the floor with as many as 18,000 fans in the arena. My supervisor made it clear that a confident walk gave the impression we were in charge. In essence, we want to control the environment as much as possible.
#2: Have a pleasing smile.
When you smile, you’re human. I’ve learned over the years that smiling makes others more comfortable. This is different from breaking out into a ridiculous laughter that makes you look unprofessional. Instead, use a warm and confident smile to win the audience.
#3: Avoid going on tangents.
Excellent speakers know the importance of sticking to the script. Know the key points that you will cover, provide planned examples, and focus on the message you are attempting to communicate.
A presenter who wanders and fails to focus on the message will lose the audience. In most cases, you have a specific topic that must be addressed, and it’s critical you focus your energy on that requirement.
For example, let’s assume you are asked to discuss the benefits of using virtual teams. Your main topics might include:
- Leverage of talent from different parts of the organization
- Employees exposed to other functions
- Focus on project management skills
- Incorporating technology to stay connected
You must let the audience know what you will speak about, share the information, have a re-cap, and encourage questions or comments. A well-crafted presentation doesn’t have to be elaborate. Do your best to keep it simple, and pepper examples that reinforce the key concepts.
A successful presenter understands the importance of both non-verbal and verbal communication. Accepting a presentation means that you will commit the necessary time to prepare. Even when you are asked to speak impromptu, have a plan in place. You will introduce the topic, share the information with the audience, review the main message, and allow time for the audience to participate.
In most cases, we are asked to present a topic because we are considered an expert in that area. However, we must avoid an arrogant or over-confident approach, as that attitude will turn the audience against you. It’s best to have a professional approach in which you are open to feedback.
In short, avoid trying to solve every problem with your presentation. Stick to your message, leverage humility, and be thankful you were given the opportunity to share your ideas with an intelligent audience.