I am an avid Toastmaster at my company and within our District 31 leadership. At my company, back in the days when we held live, in-person meetings, I watched my colleagues speak and thought, oh, they would benefit from some basics about giving a good presentation.
So I put together a short presentation about 5 best practices to improve your presentations but never got to give it. Giving a quality presentation is not as easy as it seems, even for experienced speakers. I remember watching an Executive at my company make more than 100 speaking errors in a 10-minute span before I stopped counting. Several other top Executives practice poor speaking habits too, and these are people with thousands of hours of public presentations.
Here are my 5 basic tips to improve your presentations:
Tip 1: Face the Audience
Always face your audience when you are talking.
Avoid talking to the screen, especially while you are pointing at something on it.
Tip 2: Use Your Eyes
Scan the audience.
Make periodic eye contact with different people throughout the audience.
Avoid staring down and constantly reading from your computer or printed text.
Tip 3: Use a Strong Voice
Speak in a strong, clear voice.
Use standard speed with clear diction.
Use vocal variety.
Face and speak to different sections of the audience, depending on audience size.
Talk too fast.
Talk with a monotone voice.
Talk down to your computer.
Talk to the screen.
Tip 4: Incorporate Gestures and Movement
Add gestures to reinforce points.
Use movement to signal a change of subject or section.
Use movement to capture your audience’s attention.
Avoid constantly pacing back and forth like a caged lion.
Avoid talking while walking.
Tip 5: Present More Visual Content
Use more images and less text.
Explain your points from the images, not by reading the text.
Consider whether the audience can read the font size used.
Overstuff content into slides.
Never read the printed text back to the audience. People dislike that.
If you practice on implementing these 5 tips, your presentations will improve dramatically. For practice in a stress-free environment, I encourage you to attend a Toastmasters meeting. There are over 350,000 clubs in the world and most of them are holding virtual meetings now due to the Covid-19 issue. Go to Toastmasters.org and find a club near you. Good luck with your speaking journey!