Have you ever gotten nervous about public speaking? I know the feeling (though it doesn’t stop me).
For as long as I can remember, I would get nervous when my class had to speak in front of the class. When asked to speak, my heart starts pounding and I start sweating.
That’s why I wanted to list out a few presentation techniques here that I’ve learned over the years that can help you sound like a pro while you’re presenting.
Don’t memorize your speech.
When it comes to speaking in front of a group, some people find it easier than others. And often, the difference between a great speaker and one that struggles is not the content of their presentation; it’s how they deliver it.
Here are a few ways to deliver a killer presentation that will convince everyone in the room that you drink coffee for breakfast every morning before you go into your home office and make phone calls with your headset on like a real pro.
Don’t have a full glass of water on the podium.
Don’t have a full glass of water on the podium. Fill your glass only halfway so you don’t drink too much or lose control of the situation by knocking it over and spilling water all over yourself or your notes.
Also, don’t drink at all if you don’t need to; no one wants to listen to loud gulping noises when you try to take a sip from your cup.
And even if you do drink water, remember that there could be something seriously wrong with it – so stick to bottled water if possible!
- Don’t use old or contaminated cups: Bring clean drinking glasses with you for presentations because they will taste better than tap water and make sure they are not left sitting out in storage rooms overnight before being used again as this can lead to mold growth inside them which then causes bad smells/flavors when used again later on
Use hidden notes.
Use hidden notes to keep your mind at ease. We’re all human, so it’s OK to forget a few things here and there.
But don’t let that stop you from giving a great presentation!
If you have to speak in front of an audience, it may be helpful to use hidden notes. You can write down what you want to say on the back of a card and keep it in your pocket until you need it.
If you are using a computer or projector for your presentation, just put your notes at the bottom of the screen (or even below the fold) so that only you can see them.
If you are using a teleprompter for your presentation, put main points and reminders in the margins so that they’re only visible from behind the glass. This will help keep your confidence up throughout your speech.
Take time to breathe.
The trick is to use your breath as a way to center yourself and remain calm and focused. If you’re more relaxed, you’ll be able to better focus on your message and presentation.
Your body language will also improve since you’ll have an easier time keeping a level head.
It’s important to remember that most people breathe incorrectly: they don’t take in enough air, breathe too quickly through their mouths, or take shallow breaths. Instead of maintaining good posture, it’s often the case that a person breathes from his or her chest instead of their diaphragm—which is exactly what you want when trying to give a great presentation!
Take this moment now before we move on to the next point and try breathing correctly for 5 seconds:
- Take in a deep breath through your nose
- Breathe out slowly through your mouth
- Repeat three times
Don’t walk up to the podium with your notes in hand.
Your notes should be arranged on the podium in front of you. Having to pick up your notes from the floor or turning away from your audience to rifle through a file folder can easily disrupt your flow and cause you to lose momentum.
If you have a lot of content, your notes can look like a mess at first glance; don’t worry, they’ll be organized neatly—and no one will know except for you.
By placing your talking points in bullet form on separate pieces of paper, it’s easy to shuffle them into any order depending on how the conversation is going without having to flip back and forth in a notebook, binder, or stapled packet. And when it’s time for another topic, all you need do is a place that page on top and continue smoothly with the next section of your speech.
Gesture with purpose.
Gestures are what adds life to a speech. They make you appear more confident and sincere, and are a vital component of effective communication. They also help keep your body moving, which will make your presentation more engaging for the audience. Additionally, gestures can help you remember your message.
When preparing for a presentation, you can use movements to create images in your mind that will help you remember certain points of your speech. For example, if you’re emphasizing the importance of a new product by saying it’s “right around the corner,” you could gesture as if something were just over there on the other side of the room. If part of your presentation is about how many people love this new product “already,” then picture that number right there in front of them (maybe with all ten fingers up) or even practice giving a high five to illustrate “already”.
If at first, it feels awkward or unnatural to include gestures during your speaking time: don’t worry! Some people need some time to get accustomed to using their hands while they talk; it’s something we’re not always taught to do as children because it might be viewed as rude or silly-looking (no one wants their kid acting out like they’re jazzing with invisible maracas all over town). But when used correctly, gestures actually have many benefits.
Look at one person at a time while you speak to them.
- Look at one person at a time while you speak to them. I once had a professor who said that it was important that he make eye contact with each member of his audience individually for about five seconds each. That’s not quite what I’m advocating, but the idea behind it is correct. The problem with looking around the room as you speak to your audience is that it makes you look like an auctioneer and distracts you from your message.
- Instead, focus on one person at a time as if you were having a conversation with him or her.
- This has several positive effects: You will build rapport, emphasize key points and increase your credibility and engagement. It also helps keep you focused on what you want to say so that when it’s time to move on to the next slide, you know exactly what point in your message you need to be making (and have made)!
These strategies can help you give a more dynamic, confident presentation.
- Use Gestures to Showcase Your Ideas
Effective gestures flow naturally from your body, and they feel genuine and spontaneous, like scratching an itch or tossing your hair back. Good gestures are also purposeful:
They support the story you’re telling or emphasize important points in a way that’s both natural and subtle.
You can work toward better gesture use by developing awareness of what you do with your hands when you’re nervous.
In general, when we’re anxious we tend to favor smaller, more “clenched” movements — folding our arms across our chests, playing with a pen or buttoning our jacket — over big, open ones.
With practice, these tendencies can be reversed so that we show up poised and self-assured at every engagement.
When you give a presentation, the last thing you want is to come across as a condescending know-it-all.
You want to present yourself as the smartest person in the room without being arrogant about it. Knowing how to strike that perfect tone is key, but it’s not always easy to find your way there.
Thankfully, we’re here to help.
These presentation techniques can make you sound like a pro—and avoid coming across as pompous and unbearable in the process.