Presentation Skills Training

presentation skills training

What do you think of when you hear the word “presentation“? Your mind might wander back to your high school or university days. Maybe you had a big end of the year presentation that would heavily influence your final grade that you had to nail. If you’re in B2B sales you’ve most likely made a presentation in the pursuit of closing a deal.

The reality is we’re presenting a lot more than we realize. Today, presentation skills are required in almost every field. But presentations don’t just stop in the work environment. Making a speech at your best friend’s wedding requires presentation skills. Seeking investors or a loan to help you set up a new business requires presentation skills. If you want to do a fantastic job you’re going to need to acquire new skills.

We can’t get away from presenting in life. The good news is like any skill, presenting is a skill you can learn. Once you learn how to do it, you’ll have more success in life and business. You can also have a lot of fun with it. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into presentation skills training so you can feel confident about taking the next big step in your career.

What are Effective Presentation Skills?

There’s a lot that can be said about effective presentation skills. There’s entire books and courses written on the subject. We’ll just focus on the most important ones here. If you keep these in mind you’ll have a solid foundation for delivering a memorable presentation.

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Maintain EyeConnect

EyeConnect creates a deeper level of relating and engagement

Eye contact is key to any effective human interaction. The same goes when you’re giving a presentation. In fact eye contact is so important in a presentation that we change the semantics and the duration. Instead of eye contact, use EyeConnect. Look directly at one person, straight in the eye, until you feel them look back. Keep your eyes connected with theirs until you feel the ”click” of your eyes together with theirs.

Once you feel the click, repeat with another person, then another, and another. Like a series of person-to-person conversations, EyeConnect has helped you engage the audience on a deeper level. EyeConnect keeps you from skimming the eyes of the audience or darting which detracts from your confidence. EyeConnect builds trust, sincerity, and poise.

Get Animated

Showing your passion or enthusiasm for a topic is critical for audience engagement during a presentation. If your face never shows emotion and your body is stiff, it sends a negative message to your audience.

Avoid crossed arms, hands behind your back, or in your pockets during a presentation which we call “body wrap.” Always stand up straight with your shoulders back – good posture signals confidence and authority. Hand gestures are good, as long as they are natural and purposeful.

Keep your facial expressions friendly and open. Smile. One genuine smile goes longer than you can imagine. If you don’t like smiling, practice in the mirror. A sincere smile is one of your most powerful tools for a successful presentation.

Be Prepared for Your Presentation

Verbalize your presentation—say it over and over aloud to an imaginary audience—so you never memorize or script

You may think this is a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people think they can just “wing it.” The only presenters that ever winged it were highly experienced presenters, and even that would be on a rare occasion.

Practice does make perfect. Not only will being prepared make you look credible, but it gives you a big boost of confidence. You’ll feel more relaxed, and instead of thinking about what’s coming next, you can be engaged with the audience.

Here are some quick tips for preparing for your presentation:

  • Verbalize the presentation by saying it aloud over and over in front of an imaginary audience
  • Never memorize or script your story
  • Time yourself
  • Record yourself and watch the recording

Minimize Distractions

In many cases during a presentation you’ll need to use visual aids. For example, you might need to use a pen to write on a flipchart. Tools are fine, but don’t use them as a crutch. When you’re not using them, put them down. Don’t introduce unnecessary tools into your presentation for the sake of having more tools. You’re the highlight of the presentation, and your audience wants to focus on you.

Start and Finish Strong

Use a compelling Opening Sequence, a structured Preview, and a persuasive Closing Sequence that achieves action from your audience

Start and end your presentation with impact. When you capture someone’s attention right away, there’s a much greater chance they’ll keep listening throughout your entire presentation. For example, start with a rhetorical question, a striking statistic, or a human interest story. Grab the attention of the audience immediately from whatever real life distractions they’re facing at the start of your presentation so their focus turns to you.

Next, use a preview of your agenda so they hear your main points and know what to expect during the presentation. Also preview the time your presentation will take so you appear courteous and in control.

How you end the presentation is just as important as how you begin. A weak ending will leave your audience uninspired and dilute your message. A strong ending leaves them energized about your story so they buy-in to taking the action you need them to take.

How to tell your story so the audience feels it’s their story.

Our Methodology

Why Do We Need Presentation Skills Training?

Presentation training should entail a logical, process-driven methodology that teaches solid skills and changes long-term behavior

Did you notice the word “skills” in presentation skills? A skill is not something you’re born with. A skill is something that’s learned. This is a good thing, because so many people falsely believe that being a good presenter is a natural talent that some have and some don’t.

Presentation skills training is important because it demystifies public presentations and shows you or your employees that anyone can do it with success if they have the right training. Presentation courses show you the framework of a good presentation so you can see behind the curtains and understand what makes great presentations work.

Presentation skills training shows you how to not only write and create your own presentation, but how to deliver it. There are four parts to every effective presentation – story development, slides, delivery, and Q&A. When you get professional training you understand how to create and deliver presentations for any of life’s occasions. It’s a skill that will carry you through life, and be one of the greatest investments you’ll ever make.

What Makes a Good Presenter?

When you see a great presenter take command on stage it’s hard to look away. Often they might not even be talking about a topic you’re interested in, but you can’t stop watching. What is it that makes a good presenter irresistible – and how can you emulate it?

Confidence

Confidence comes from being prepared and experienced. You’re not born with it. But when you have it, people recognize it. A confident presenter commands attention. There are some ways to appear more confident than you might feel in the moment. Instead of standing still behind a podium, work the stage by walking around, as long as your movements are purposeful. Don’t slouch, stand tall. Don’t talk fast. Speak slower than you think you need to speak and take pauses between each phrase. Doing these things while maintaining EyeConnect will signal confidence even when you’re feeling nervous.

Self-awareness

You can only be you – and that’s okay. Advice like be witty, or charming, or funny and energetic are not helpful. These are all great qualities to have as a presenter but what’s most important is being seen as authentic. If you’re faking it – the audience will know. Having greater self-awareness and focusing on what makes you your best self will help make you a great presenter.

Knowledge

Presenting on a topic that your audience knows more about than you can be a disaster. If you’re going to present on a particular topic, put the time in and make sure you really understand it. One mistake can ruin your credibility with the audience and turn a great presentation into a failure. This is especially important if you’re opening the floor to a Q&A session at the end of your presentation.

What are the Steps to Prepare for a Presentation?

There are few things more terrifying than going into a presentation without proper preparation. Public speaking is one of the greatest fears because of this. The fear of failure in front of other people can be paralyzing. But knowing how to prepare for your presentation can make all the difference.

Choose the Right Topic

Picking the right topic for your presentation is foundational to your success. Choose a topic you’re passionate about. Pick a topic based on your knowledge and skills. If you’re given a topic, do the work to understand it and own it. Learn so much about it that you can talk about it with confidence.

Understand Your Audience

Understand what your audience knows now — and what they need to know — so they take action

Just as important as your topic is knowing who you will be speaking to. Your presentation will change quite a bit depending on your audience. Are your audience members novices or experts on your topic? What is the demographic of your audience? Speaking to an auditorium of middle school students versus a conference room of professionals will look totally different.

Brainstorm

Brainstorming Guidelines: No censoring, sequencing, or ranking so your thoughts are completely random

Once you know your topic and audience, start by doing some brainstorming. Preparing a great presentation requires some creativity. You can do this on your own or with others. Identify every random thought your presentation could possibly include. Be sure to capture every idea on an external surface such as a whiteboard, computer, or even paper.

Outline Your Presentation

Use the data dump from your brainstorming to identify your main points. Create clusters consisting of your main points surrounded by their related ideas. Make sure the clusters resonate with the audience. The more your audience can see themselves in your presentation, the better.

Design Support Materials

If you’re using media like powerpoint slides during your presentation you’ll want them to look clean and professional, but not take away from you. You can even use powerpoint slides to keep you on track without the audience knowing you’re using cues within the slide to help. Keep the slides simple, free of too much text, and don’t use busy images that take eyes away from you.

Practice the Presentation

Once your outline and supporting materials are finished you can start practicing. As you practice, pay attention to anything that doesn’t flow or seems out of place. Each topic and subtopic should naturally tie into the next one. You’re giving one presentation – not a bunch of disconnected small presentations. Keep the whole in mind as you practice and ask for feedback from friends or colleagues.

Know the Room

If possible, have some knowledge about the space where you’ll be presenting. If possible check it out before it’s time to present. Pay close attention to the presentation equipment you’ll be using and make sure you know how to operate it. Get a sense for the space you’ll be occupying and how close or far from audience you’ll be.

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Our Program

The Dos and Don’ts During a Presentation

You’ve done the preparation and it’s your time to shine. Unless you’re a seasoned presenter it’s easy to make small mistakes that can be easily avoided if you knew better. Here’s a short list of some key dos and don’ts to keep in mind during your presentation.
  • Do stay focused on the key message. From the introduction, the audience should feel that your presentation is leading to something important, something worth paying attention to for duration of the time.
  • Don’t read from your slides or notes. Practice your presentation enough that you can deliver it naturally, like a conversation. This will ensure you keep engage with EyeConnect and keep the audience’s attention.
  • Do tell stories. Humans are attracted to stories. It’s the reason we go to the movies, read books, and listen to gossip. Nothing beats a good story. The more you can incorporate the elements of story into your presentation the more the audience will stay engaged.
  • Don’t talk too fast.
Focus on your cadence to help you modulate and vary the pattern and tempo of your voice

Most people talk too fast when they’re nervous. When you’re presenting you need to slow it down. Talk even slower than you think your normal cadence should be. Take some pauses. Pauses show confidence and build tension. Talking in a slow monotone voice is just as bad as talking too fast.

  • Do keep your tone conversational. Although you’re giving a prepared speech, don’t over or under do it. Some presenters present too big and their presentations come off as too showy and even pompous. You might be talking to hundreds of people, but your tone should feel like you’re talking one on one with each audience member.
  • Don’t forget body language. The way you move on the stage or wherever you’re giving your speech will compliment the story you’re telling. If you’re talking about peace and tolerance you don’t want every movement to look abrupt, hasty, or aggressive. Your body language communicates just as much as your spoken word during a presentation.

COMMUNICATION
WITH PURPOSE

Our Impact

Present to Persuade

Use WIIFYs, an acronym for “What’s In It For You,” so the audience always knows why they should care about your message

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You’ll always be presenting to persuade in some way. You might be persuading for new business, or persuading friends and family. Whatever context there are some useful things to keep in mind when trying to persuade during a presentation.

The best persuaders are able to identify all possible objections and address them. Think about the likely challenges to your ideas that will come from the audience. Proactively work them into your presentation and carefully address how your solution will handle each one. Showing that you’re aware of objections and facing them head on is strong persuasion.

If it makes sense, explain the risks or obstacles of your message and how they can be mitigated or overcome. Use logical, ethical and emotional appeals, as well as a variety of evidence to support your argument. This could include expert testimony, statistics, real-life examples or personal experiences.

Focus on benefits over features. At least three quarters of your presentation should be dedicated to developing your main points. Each benefit or theme should be supported with a careful selection of statistics, demonstrations, examples, or personal experiences.

Take feedback, graciously. Listen intently to your audience member questions. Spend time with each one and don’t exaggerate or pounce on ideas that vigorously challenge your thesis. Staying calm and in control will help your case. The more questions you take and are prepared to address, the stronger your case becomes.

Virtual Presentation Skills

As a record amount of people have started working remotely, understanding virtual presentation skills is a must. The fundamentals of virtual presentations skills are similar to in-person presentation skills, but there are some differences you should be aware of.

Stand Up

Yes, even though you’re using a webcam you may want to stand. Standing helps you feel like you’re presenting. More important, it allows more air into your lungs so your voice is strong and you appear energized.

Be Prepared

Practice delivering your presentation with your technology in advance of your presentation. Make sure all the technology is working and is updated to the latest version. Record your practice session and play it back to look for areas where you could improve.

Use Assistance

If you’re running a webinar with lots of participants, having some assistance helping you with technical issues and sending out important links is very helpful. They can field questions, and help you see what you’re not seeing.

The Best Online Presentation Skills Training

presentation skills class

When it comes to communication skills, basic presentation skills, or advanced presentation skills, quality training courses can make all the difference.

Those who take the time to learn presentation skills and take presentation courses can stand out with their unique presentation styles. Management leaders with team members know a good presentation makes all the difference with corporate clients and professional development as a whole.

Effective presentations are just a matter of getting the right training. In order to learn presentation skills and communication skills for an effective presentation make sure to do your homework when searching for the best training courses.

The best online courses will teach you about story, delivery techniques, presentation design, and show you how a personalized presentation makes you stand out when it matters most. Whether you’re presenting to a large group without powerpoints, or using highly interactive media you can become a skilled presenter with the right methodology and training.

Suasive, Inc. is a Silicon Valley-based communication consulting company that offers presentation skills training for organizations and individuals. To date, we’ve coached over 600 CEOs and helped individuals in some of the country’s biggest companies including Netflix, eBay, Sonos, Lyft, and Freshworks.