Establishing yourself as a credible, confident presenter will make you a trusted, sought-after resource by your clients. Being a confident presenter is a skill. If you are not nervous when you stand before a room of people who are looking to you as an expert, you are not likely not respecting your audience enough.
Becoming a polished presenter can be learnt. Becoming a confident speaker in your industry is necessary if you want your audience to perceive you as confident and credible. There are five things that you can do to become the presenter that you want to be, whether it is to present your regular board meeting speech, host a vlog or act as a keynote speaker at an industry event.
1) Establish credibility.
Introduce yourself. Let your audience know who you are and why they should consider you a reputable, trustworthy source of information on the topic you are presenting. Building a rapport with your audience will make them feel more comfortable asking questions and increase their likelihood of maintaining interest throughout your presentation.
2) Traverse the room and master eye contact.
How you engage with your audience will determine how included they feel in the presentation. Walk around the room, make eye contact with audience members for about one sentence at a time. Relax and move at a slow pace with pauses. If you are in a smaller group setting, avoid darting around the room and spend time with each audience member. When presenting to larger rooms, focus on one section of the room at a time. Share a key point with one segment of the room, and then move on to another.
3) Avoid fillers.
Eliminate verbal pauses, such as ‘um’, ‘ah’ ‘like,’ and ‘you know’ by taking a pause to breathe and collect your thoughts. You do not need to fill the silence between beats. Pausing to select just the right word from your toolbox or mentally access the insight you want to share is often perceived by your audience as a thoughtful pause, as opposed to the distracting fillers that can convey nervousness or a lack of confidence.
Taking a deep breath, looking away to gather your thoughts before speaking sends a message of poise and thoughtfulness. Most people are unaware of their habits, so videotaping yourself presenting can help to identify any fillers or other distractions you need to reduce to be a confident presenter.
4) Use a strong visual aid.
Your audience can’t listen to you and read a slide at the same time, so your presentation or visual aids need to be streamlined. Use as few words as possible on slides, and leverage images and short videos to keep your audience stimulated and engaged.
Visual aids should all have a purpose and be focused on key takeaways. However, one of the most powerful visual aids that you have in the room is you. Dress appropriately for your occasion. Groom yourself and ensure that you are presenting yourself in the way that you want to be seen. Use hand gestures, stand, move from your seat or podium, and slowly pace the room. Your physicality is part of the presentation.
5) Practice makes perfect.
Practice your presentation aloud. Give your speech to your dog, your partner, your neighbour; anyone who will listen. Capture your key points on notecards and prepare so that you have confidence in your knowledge of your content.
Think of your presentation as a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. This simple arc will help you remember the path of your key points and ensure that your audience can easily follow along. When you feel confident in the story you are telling, you will feel comfortable and relaxed enough to allow your personal, authentic voice to come through in your presentation.
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