As an entrepreneur, we are so busy selling our product or service, devising the perfect marketing and PR strategy, getting our systems and structures right, etc. that we often forget about ourselves and how we communicate.
How we communicate and present ourselves and our businesses has high rewards – winning business, impacting an audience or influencing colleagues and peers can leave you feeling on top of the world. But in a world of more and more presentations being given virtually, as well as in person, it can feel harder to connect with the attention grabbing energy, skill and engagement we need to really leave a lasting impression.
If the idea of delivering a presentation fills you with nerves already, the last thing you want to do is leave your attendees feeling flat or bored. The good news is that much needed help is here, and can help you stand out in a room, or on Zoom, filled with people who think they have seen it all before.
Maybe you are tired of presenting and are looking to freshen your skillset, or maybe, like many, you are being asked to present more often and would like to boost your confidence and achieve higher interest and retention in the information that you are sharing.
Presentations are a key point of contact in the business world today, both in person and online. Here are five ways you can upskill and feel confident in giving the best version of yourself and your message the next time you’re up…
How do you sound?
No really, how do you sound to others? Nasal? Strident? Typically louder than others? Meek? Everyone has a neutral ‘pitch’ in their voice, and it’s when we feel nervous or hurried that this can change and make presenting less influential to an audience. It’s actually at our ‘natural pitch’ when we sound more relaxed, authoritative and credible. It’s important to recognise your voice as a tool, and how you can use it comfortably to make your key points, and to ease your audience into the information. Practicing calming, breathing or ‘rooting’ techniques before you start your presentation, and really leaning into your natural pitch (as we are all individual) will leave you more comfortable to start, and before you consider the more ‘dynamic’ parts of your presentation
Nervous and inexperienced speakers tend to talk way too fast. By being conscious of this, you can slow your speech down and plan for added emphasis where it’s needed with practice. Slowing down your speech leaves opportunities to build drama or emphasise key points. Speeding your speech up can then help relieve monotony and create excitement.
It’s never a race. Pausing before, or on important points, raises the emphasis of what you are trying to say, and the impact of your message. It’s really important to convey emotion whilst you are speaking, which avoids a monotonous delivery and keeps your attendees engaged. Look at your material and pinpoint exactly where you would like the emphasis to be. Passion, conviction, enthusiasm and energy are key to making your delivery resonate with those who matter.
Stating the obvious, but people need to hear what you have to say. Even with microphones and amplifiers, you need to be heard, and even that technology can work against us. Check your personal volume, and check your tech too.
It’s not about being ‘louder’, but making sure your projection is appropriate. Posture helps here too. Your words need to come from your lungs rather than the throat to produce a clear sound. This also gives you the opportunity to create impact by using your volume to make clearer or key points with pauses and emotion.
Eye contact is obviously much easier in person, but even online we need to show our personality and that we are connected to those who are watching. Presentations should be both entertaining and informative. You can save ‘dry’ for an email – people will lose attention quickly if they are bored. If face-to-face, remember that everyone in the room is as important as each other.
A great speaker knows how to use stories to create an emotional connection with the audience – consider this when preparing your material, and show them who you really are, and why you are the perfect person to be delivering this message. Remember, enthusiasm is contagious!
The Communications Works (TCW) is a global communications and media training consultancy that helps organisations and individuals with their messaging, to deliver stronger presentations and handle any perceived or real PR crisis with confidence. With offices in Dubai and London, TCW is led by Jen Blandos and Elsbeth Smedley – experts with over twenty years’ experience across multinational brands, government entities, SMEs and entrepreneurs and more. If you'd like more presentation tips, TCW has a number of fact sheets, videos and checklists that you can download.