You’ve got the mother of all presentations in two days. It’s a presentation that has the potential to put you in your boss’s good graces and skyrocket your career. You’ve been researching data and perfecting your slide deck for weeks and now you’re down to a matter of hours before you’ll have to showcase your blood sweat and tears in front of God only knows how many people. You can’t just present, you’ve really gotta sell it…whose heart isn’t racing right now? We all know the stress of public speaking! Last week we discussed how to fight those pre-presentation jitters, but what can you do during your presentation to really captivate the audience and leave them entranced by what you said?
1. Body language is KEY
By now, we all know that I’m a big proponent of being conscious of body language. When you’re public speaking, your body language will determine whether your message gets received or not. I’m not just talking about your run of the mill body language tips like stand up straight (important, but LAME). Going beyond the basics, the most effective presenters will ensure that their speaking points are in sync with their body language. We’ll call it “landing your thoughts”. Your hand gestures should signify when you’ve finished an idea, and your eye contact should jump from person to person with each point you make. One of my favorite social psychologists of all time gave a stellar Ted Talk on this topic!
2. Take a…pause
Lots of people run as quickly as they can through what they’re supposed to say because holy crap you’ve gotta get off the mic as fast as you can because people are actually listening to you! SLOW DOWN. Pausing between thoughts will not only make what you’re saying more powerful, but it will give you a chance to breathe and think. When you’re presenting, a .5 second pause can feel like an eternity, but I guarantee that if you pause for at least 1-5 seconds before you make a critical point, your idea will be given the attention it truly deserves.
3. Personally connect with the material
How many times have you sat through a lecture or presentation where the speaker was reading from the slides or from notes. Now how much do you actually remember from those dry speeches? Everyone knows that a presentation is less engaging when the speaker is reading from a script. So how do you not do that when it’s your time to shine? It’s okay to memorize your script, but the trick is to personally connect with the material you’re presenting. What do those sales numbers mean for you and your audience? Why are you so excited about this new product? Allow yourself to connect and really feel the data you’re conveying. Your audience takes its cues from you, so if you’re passionate about what you’re saying, the audience will be too!