Everyone wants to be a great presenter. Not everyone, unfortunately, however, can be one. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because they “don’t have what it takes” to be great orators. As I’ve said time and again, good speakers are made. They’re not born.
So, let’s circle back to what I just said. Why can’t everyone be a good presenter, then? Well, it’s simply because they don’t have the knowledge just yet to be one. To become good at something, you need to know the basic principles first. It’s these basic principles, like the critical presentation skills you need to have, for instance, that you essentially put into practice.
That said, what are the skills required for an effective presentation, then? What are the traits you need to have to be able to deliver that powerful message? Let’s look at nine in this article.
What Are the 9 Key Elements of Effective Presentation Skills?
Confidence is an important skill in presentation. Look at the best speakers out there (Steve Jobs for instance) and you won’t find anyone who lacks self-confidence. After all, it’s that confidence that makes them speak flawlessly and comport themselves the way they should in front of an audience. Had they lacked confidence, they would have stuttered, would have cowered in a corner, and probably would have stopped halfway through the presentation.
Confidence helps the best speakers speak with clarity and deliver the message in a way the audience will understand. Even if you know the subject, if you have no confidence, you can’t possibly deliver a good presentation.
2. Mastery of the Subject
Mastery of the subject is also critical to a good presentation. In fact, in a way, mastery of the subject and confidence are related. Think about it. You can’t possibly have the confidence to speak in front of an audience if you don’t have a good grasp of the topic you’re supposed to discuss (that relationship, however, doesn’t go the other way. You won’t automatically have the confidence to discuss in front of an audience just because you’ve mastered the subject. But that’s beside the point).
So, you need to allocate some time to studying the material before you face your audience. And that applies even if you’re already considered an expert (Consider grabbing some books from Amazon:). You can also anticipate possible questions and study the answers to those, too. That way, if a member of the audience asks, you can answer.
Passion can help you speak with confidence. When you’re passionate about a topic, you won’t even have to really think about what you want to say. The words will just come without you exerting any effort.
But that’s not all. When you’re passionate about the topic, it’s also easier to rally people to your cause. You say things in such a convincing way that even your most skeptical listeners will think twice about, well, their skepticism. When faced with a passionate speaker, for the audience, the train of thought is this: There must be a reason she or he is absolutely convinced about what you’re saying. So, why shouldn’t they be convinced at all?
To be an effective speaker, you need to be an authentic one. It’s the authentic speakers, after all, who can get through to the audience. If you’re authentic, people won’t feel like you don’t understand them. They’ll feel like they should listen to you because you know exactly what they’re going through.
But how exactly can you be an authentic speaker? There are many ways you can manifest this authenticity. For instance, instead of being too serious all throughout the presentation, crack jokes once in a while. Or, if you’re nervous, then tell your audience you’re nervous. If you do these things, you’ll make your audience feel like you’re far from “the other.” You’re just one of them.
5. Clarity of Voice
Sure, you’ll have a microphone during your presentation. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll no longer pay attention to your voice. Microphones, after all, can only do so much. If your voice is weak, your audience won’t still be able to hear you.
In other words, you need to make your voice resonate.
How do you that? Well, instead of just opening your mouth and pronouncing words, you need to make the sound originate from your vocal cords and project the sound throughout your upper body.
Don’t worry, it’s really not that complicated. You just have to be conscious of the sounds you’re making and their sources. Do voice modulation exercises as often as you can. So, the next time you get on that stage, you might not even need a microphone anymore (of course you’d still need one, but you get my point).
6. Ability to Enunciate
Enunciation is different from clarity of voice. When you enunciate, you articulate each word that allows your audience to understand what you’re saying. You don’t skip syllables. Instead, you articulate each of them and speak more deliberately, slowly, even. Don’t worry. This is something you can practice frequently at home. You can deliberately read words out loud slowly and deliberately, for instance. Record yourself so you can listen to your articulation later on and make the necessary adjustments.
While different from clarity of voice, it goes without saying that this ability to enunciate goes hand in hand with clarity of voice. If you enunciate but your voice is weak, your audience will still not understand you. If your voice is loud, but you don’t enunciate, your audience will still not understand you. To become an effective speaker, then, you need to have both: the right clarity of voice and the proper enunciation.
A good speaker knows how to discuss concepts at the right pace. He or she doesn’t go too slowly or quickly. For the audience, the pace is just right.
But what exactly is a good pace? Well, for starters, let it be clear that I’m not talking about how slowly or quickly you pronounce words during a presentation (we already covered this in the “enunciation” section). Pace, in this case, refers to how quickly or slowly your discussion progresses.
That said, what’s a good pace? That depends on the audience. If members of your audience are already experts in the topic you’re discussing, then you don’t need to explain basic concepts one by one. If members of your audience, however, are laymen, you’d need to go a bit more in detail.
That’s why it’s important to know your audience’s knowledge of the topic before you go on stage and deliver presentations. Don’t worry. You can ask the organizer about this. You can even ask your audience yourself before D-Day. Send them a survey and ask if you can have their contact details.
8. Body Language
A lot of what we talked about in this article had to do with your use of voice for your presentation. That doesn’t mean, however, that your body language is no longer important. It is, in fact, just as important.
Your body language can make or break your presentation. If you’re slouching all the time, your audience might not find you as credible. If you’re not making eye contact, your audience will think you’re nervous and might end up not listening to you. Body language, in short, is everything so make sure you get that right.
There are a few tips to remember when it comes to body language. I already mentioned some of them (well, in a way). You need to make eye contact and avoid slouching. Also, use your hands to emphasize points. As for your facial expression, don’t be serious all the time. Smile. You want your audience to feel comfortable with you.
Take advantage of the nonverbal cues available to you when you’re presenting and you’ll be an effective speaker.
9. Use of Visual Aids
Visual aids are no longer just an added and unnecessary element to presentations. They’re now a necessity. Don’t believe me? Look at what the research says. People, in general, are able to retain more of the message being conveyed to them if it’s presented in both a visual and oral manner. That’s a whopping 65% of the message being retained, as opposed to the 10% and 35% retained by the audience if the message was delivered only verbally and visually, respectively.
That means you need to have visual aids when you’re presenting. It follows, then, that to be a great speaker, you need to know how to use these visual aids to present. Don’t worry. There’s a wealth of resources out there for you to learn the basics and even the advanced tips. In fact, you don’t need to look any further. There’s a great blog post on how you can use Powerpoint for your hybrid presentations you can read from this site.
Anyone can learn how to be a great speaker. It’s just a matter of knowing what the basic principles are so these can be applied in real life.
You learned some key elements to effective presentations from this article. Pay attention to those nine elements I discussed here: Confidence, mastery of the subject, passion authenticity, clarity of voice, ability to enunciate, pace, body language, and use of visual aids. Incorporate all those traits and skills required for an effective presentation every time you face an audience. And soon enough, you’ll be an even greater speaker yourself.
For more resources to develop your public speaking skills while you are in the comforts of your own home, please check the articles Online Resources for Public Speaking and Where Can I Learn Public Speaking. If you would like to leverage the best presentation software for your next big speaking engagement please read the article 'Best Presentation Technology tools'.
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