Career Advice English for professional use

Giving the Perfect Presentation (Part 2)

In Part 1 last week, we looked at what to put into your presentation, and explored structure, including signposting, signalling and summarising. In this part, we continue with further tips on how to give the perfect presentation.

3. Length of presentation and attention span
Consider how long your audience can pay attention. Sitting, listening to someone speak for a sustained period of time can make people lose focus very easily. Think carefully about the length of your presentation - stick to the important information - no padding! You could also consider varying interaction - could audience members discuss their response to a certain point with a partner? This would give them more time to comprehend your message. 

4. Pausing 
Pausing is key. Make sure you pause at regular intervals when you speak, especially after signposting words, key words and at the end of a sentence. This will help add emphasis and give the listener more time to focus on what you are saying.

5. Body language 
Good body language can help in a few ways. Firstly, a firm stance - legs in line with your shoulders, a straight back - can help to keep you calm and in control. Secondly, open arms help to draw your audience in, but make sure you include gestures at the right time (not all the time!) Finally, try and make eye contact with each member or part of the audience as much as possible - don’t just focus on one or two people.

6. Visual aids 
If you are using a visual aid, such as a slide show, make sure to keep any text on the screen short and concise. Good pictures and illustrative visuals, like graphs, will help. Also remember not to simply repeat what is on the slide - it’s a visual aid, it’s there to help, it is not the presentation itself. Also, make sure you have a back-up of the presentation with you just in case things go wrong.

7. Think about yourself 
- What are you going to wear? Look smart, but make sure you feel comfortable. 
- Feed your mind - don't skip breakfast because you're nervous. A healthy snack or meal with a good source of protein can fuel your brain if your audience asks any tricky questions. 
- Stay hydrated - keep nerves at bay, e.g. avoid a dry mouth by sipping plain water before and during your presentation.

8. Practice
Before the presentation, make sure you have a full run through. This could be by yourself to practise timings, and to ensure you speak slowly and clearly. Alternatively, you could practise on another person to get some feedback. If you’re scared to do something, practice, practice and more practice is the only way to get over that fear.

A good presentation starts long before you begin talking. Thorough preparation ensures that when you enter the room, you are in the best possible position to deliver an effective presentation. Good luck!