How to deliver outstanding presentations – even on your first time!

Experience has nothing to do with delivering an outstanding presentation. It only takes adequate preparation. Trust me; I have sat front row for hundreds of presentations and watched newbies deliver a mind-blowing presentation. First-time presenters can deliver an excellent presentation as long as they manage anxiety and prepare well for the presentation.

Make a strong first impression

First impressions are important and especially when making a presentation. When you stand up to make your presentation, you need to make the audience like you. I have realized that presenters who start strong end up capturing the attention of the crowd and it becomes easy to keep listening. One of the ways to make a strong first impression is to start strong. Start by saying something entertaining or even funny. Do not go on rumbling about your experience and other personal details.

You also need to smile and look open. The crowd wants someone they can relate to. Don’t look too serious to the audience. Your audience needs to see that you’re a person just like them and you can show them that with a simple smile and relaxed expression.

It’s also imperative to show that you are passionate about what you are saying. It is essential for the audience to know that you care about what you are talking about so that they buy into what you’re saying. The audience will always be happy to listen intetatively when you deliver your presentation with passion.

Engage your audience

Capturing the attention of your audience is not enough. You need to keep the presentation interactive. It is essential to make sure that your audience can follow what you are talking about. When making a presentation, many amateur presenters tend to keep their eyes on the screen. The screen should only act as a guide and not your area of focus. Keep your audience engaged by maintaining eye contact. You should also use different voice intonations to emphasize different parts of the presentation, which in turn engages your audience.

Body language is key when trying to engage an audience. Using hand gestures is advisable but you should try to control their frequency, which can be overdone if nervous. Try to step away from the screen and move to the crowd every few minutes or during important moments as you will interact better with the audience when you are near to them.

Using the different tools available to you like props and professional PowerPoint designs serve as powerful tools that will draw your audience in and keep them hooked.

Keep it short, simple and practical

According to research, the human concentration span is about 30 minutes. Which means that you need to keep your presentation as short as possible before your audience starts losing concentration, while still delivering the important messaging.

Depending on your presentation type you will need different numbers of slides. However as a good rule try to use 10/20/30 rule which recommends 10 slides for a 20 minute presentation.

The font size should be consistent throughout and less than 30 points, which helps guide you in the number of words per slide.

As with anything it’s important to keep the presentation as professional as possible which means offering some time to answer audience questions.

You need to answer the questions asked by the audience courteously and from a position of expert knowledge, as audiences like investors or stake holders will be keen to test your knowledge of the facts and figures.

An easy way to stick to the shorter time frame is to simply give your presentation without going over unnecessary details to avoid digressing and mentioning unnecessary things. Your presentation will only be useful when you focus on the important points and communicate them efficiently. This can be done through your graphics using a good presentation design template to guide you along the way.

Practicing some calming techniques

Anxiety is a great hindrance when trying to give a presentation. When making a presentation for the first time, it is fine to be nervous. Fortunately, there are some breathing techniques which when practiced are perfect for calming nerves.

Always pause and breathe before you start talking, whether at the very beginning or between each sentence. Practice this well in advance of your presentation so that your breathing techniques are not obvious to the audience. Which will be especially challenging when using a microphone.

The greatest mistake that many people make when nervous is talking and rambling. When you start talking when nervous, you end up making a lot of mistakes in an attempt to cover up your anxiety. It is okay to pose for some seconds and recollect your thoughts. Keeping quiet for some time every time you feel anxious will help you to stay focused and manage the anxiety when making your presentation.

However there is only one bullet-proof technique for battling presentation nerves and that is practice! Practice your presentation as many times as possible to as many people as possible. Practice makes perfect and there is nowhere else where this rings as true as when you are delivering presentations.

Your presentation could be for investment, a job, or even more important. So why not take the necessary steps to prepare yourself for it and ensure that even your first presentation is a great one.