Giving presentations is part of our educational or professional lives, whether we like it or not. According to estimations by Microsoft, its PowerPoint software is used to present over 30 million times worldwide every day.
A presentation is key to getting your message across, whether you're in an interview or giving a talk in front of the class. And even if you're not aspiring to become the next Steve Jobs, it's still advisable to brush up on the subtle skills inherent in quality presentations.
Control your nerves
For years, Sally Chopping, a speech coach for the US training company Acting for Business, had feared the day she would draw a blank during a presentation. Then one day during a 45-minute speech, it happened –she forgot what she was going to say.
Sally Chopping 是美国培训公司Acting for Business的演讲教练。多年来，她一直很害怕有一天自己会在做报告时脑内一片空白。后来有一天，在做一场45分钟的演讲时，她担心的真的发生了 —— 她忘记了自己接下来要说些什么。
To help her get back on track, Chopping asked the audience to look at the handout and tell her what topic was up next. At the end of her presentation, audience members gave her top marks for organization.
“What that taught me is the audience doesn't care if you mess up, and what they care about is what you are going to do about it,” Chopping said. “My nervousness went away when I concentrated not on myself, but instead just thought, 'How is my speech going to help the audience?' Once you do that, it gets rid of the fear. Every single step of the way, ask yourself: ‘What's in it for them?’”
Doug Carter is the founder of Canada-based presentation skills training company Presentations Etc. When possible, he gets to the location of his presentation the day before to make sure all the electronic aids work. He wants to ensure the screen, lighting and inputs all work properly. “Most of the time it works, but the one time it doesn't, you're screwed,” he says.
Doug Carter是加拿大陈述报告技能培训公司Presentations Etc. 的创始人。在可能的情况下，他都会提前一天到达做报告的现场，确保所有的电子辅助设备正常运作。他想要确认屏幕、照明设备还有各种输入信号都能正常工作。“大多数时候它们都是正常的，但一旦这些设备无法正常运作，你就有麻烦了，”他说道。
In addition, build an exit plan before you present. Having a point from which you know you can conclude your main idea helps when approaching the end of your allotted time, or if you are given an unexpected five-minute warning.
Engage the audience
Whether you've got a one-on-one talk or a speech in front of 400 people, think “storytelling”. Stories are powerful because they combine data and information with emotion. The way to a person's head is through their heart.
Stories paint even the most complex of topics in a new light and can portray something new and enhance the message. Sometimes all it takes is a few seconds to connect an audience member with a story, according to Eric English, a communication lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh in the US.
Moreover, English also notes that the hardest thing for people to do is say nothing, although it can be an effective tool. If you've got something people should read, pause and let them read it.
“One thing that shocks people back into attention is to leave an almost uncomfortably long pause,” he said. “They've been used to hearing this voice and all of a sudden it's, 'Oh, no, what did I miss?'That jolts them and brings them back to the speaker.”