If you visited *ship this summer, you might have heard Neal Hartman’s speech about powerful presentations. If not, we have good news! I, intern at *ship Festival at the time, made some notes during the summer on Neal’s motivating speech about presentations.
So, here are a few tips from the man who gives amazing speeches:
Atmosphere. You need to think about what kind of environment you want to create by your presentation. For example, if you are aiming for a more informal presentation, don’t stand behind the speaker’s stand. Move around. Make a note though, that fixed movements distract your focus. Small movement is good and can make you seem more relaxed.
Pay attention to your surroundings. Make sure you are not standing in front of you slides or in the way. Move around the stage so everyone in the audience can see you and that way connect to your message better.
Scan the audience with your eyes. When you and the audience are engaged, it allows you to get instant feedback from them. You see how they react when you speak, are they asleep or focused. And by looking at the audience, you can see who are supporting you and get more confidence. Look at the persons who look encouraging in nonverbal ways more often and come back to them when you need an extra boost. And if you are taking a question from the audience, remember to focus back to the person who asked the question at the end of your answer. That way you make yourself a little more connected to the audience as well.
Nonverbal communication is also important. When you smile, it shows that you are confident in what you are talking about. Even if you are not, smiling can boost your own performance and give you that little notch of confidence. Other gestures, from your hands, feet and head, are also worth taking notice. You can use subtle gestures to emphasize your point, look more confident or uneasy. For example, place your feet firmly on the ground. By that, you maintain your balance, but also send a message that you are confident. Don’t hide your hands behind your back all the time, keep them visible and use them to highlight your words.
Be a mirror for your audience. The audience is looking at you, or at least they should be, and the way you behave can also reflect the audience. When you smile more, the audience is also more likely to smile. When pitching, you can use your own energy and enthusiasm and project that to the audience. Having a good amount of energy also makes you seem more confident.
Think about your slides. Be careful of what you put on your slides, as they can be a distraction. Keep them simple, because the audience can’t read and listen effectively at the same time. If your slides are bold and super colourful, they can take away the attention from your speech and for the point, you are trying to present.
Before finishing, remember to do two things: Firstly, if you decided to ask questions, draw the focus back to the topic and your speech. Especially if the last question was irrelevant to the topic. You want the listeners to remember your speech, not the last question. Secondly, show that the presentation is ending in advance so the audience can prepare themselves for it and make final notes.
And a little note about team presentations: it is very important that everyone is coherent during the presentation. Don’t talk behind the presenter; stay focused the whole presentation even if you are not presenting at the moment. Before you get on the stage, decide who in your team is going to summarize your presentation!
So, to summarize the above: move around, pay attention to your non-verbal communication and to your audience, be a mirror to your listeners and make sure your slides support your message. And let’s not forget: practice makes perfect!
Ps: if you want to learn more about pitching, check out our previous article.
Author: Anne-Mari is a business student and currently on exchange in Scotland. She is passionate about the environment and believes that leading by an example everyone can make a big difference.