Delivering an oral presentation is always unnerving, even for the best speaker in the world. Standing in front of an audience and trying to deliver a message through a presentation is what people tend to shy away from, for the fear that the audience may not receive you well. However, so that this doesn't happen, it pays to know your audience well. Apart from this small tip, there are several other skills that you should acquire if you are required to make presentations often. Whether your audience is large or small, your job is to ensure that they have thoroughly comprehended what you have spoken for the specified time duration, and that they don't go back with any questions or doubts. Think you can master the art? Of course you can! Here's how you can develop some very effective oral presentation skills.
What Skills are Necessary to Deliver an Effective Oral Presentation?
An oral presentation requires you to possess some very necessary skills so that it is appreciated and remembered by your audience. Here's a checklist that you can keep at hand when preparing and delivering any presentation.
Prior preparation is the key to delivering a good oral presentation. How do your prepare? You prepare by following this checklist:
- Thoroughly understand the subject of the presentation.
- Understand who your audience is going to be: age group, gender, work background, small/large, interest, etc.
- Keep small notes to guide you through the presentation.
- Determine the length and duration of the presentation.
- Keep a minimum duration per slide of the presentation (which should ideally not exceed one minute).
- Rehearse the presentation at least once before giving it.
- Take deep breaths to tackle nervousness and let confidence radiate through your mind.
Importance of Visual Aids
Providing visual aids with any presentation is essential because it helps tackle several issues at once. A visual aid is important because:
- It helps retain the attention of the audience.
- It provides a reference to the speaker.
- It helps generate interest if supporting images and comprehensible diagrams or graphs are used.
- It should only have the key points mentioned in bulleted points. Avoid putting long paragraphs on it.
- Use a large but simple font so that it is legible.
- Don't use too many unnecessary words.
- Use color to distinguish between different types of text and images.
- Provide supporting images or diagrams with text, wherever possible or necessary.
- Ensure that each slide makes a smooth transition from the previous to the next.
Now it's time to actually go up there and speak in front of your audience; how do you handle that? Here's how:
- Feel confident and walk in with a warm smile to greet your audience.
- Greet them with a 'Good Morning' or 'Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen'.
- When giving your presentation, ensure that you are audible to everyone.
- Make eye contact with your audience. It reflects great confidence.
- State the theme of your presentation right at the beginning, and keep it concise.
- Ask questions to keep them involved. Try to include rhetorical questions for greater effect.
- Talk to your audience. Don't read from notes; only use them for reference.
- Body language has a very important role to play in delivery of oral presentations. You can use hand gestures to point out facts on the visuals you are providing, you can walk and talk, and you can be slightly animated for effect. Don't go overboard with the hand gestures though.
- Control the tone and pitch of your voice. Raise the tone when you have to make a significant point or statement. Pause after making such a significant statement, for the sake of emphasis. Tone it down when you are stating general facts. There should be a rise and fall in your tone of voice so that your audience is engaged. Just don't shout or get very excited while talking.
- Talk slow and breathe normally. Voice modulation requires that you breathe properly so that you don't run out of breath while talking.
- Leave room for questions. After every slide, ask the audience questions such as, 'May we proceed?' or 'Any questions?' These show that you care about whether your audience has actually got the message and are not just in a hurry to wrap up the presentation.
- Once you are done with your presentation, clarify your audience's doubts and make sure you have answered all their questions.
Nothing is more important than practice to make sure that you give a good presentation every time. Also, an evaluation of your performance, the audience's reaction, and your abilities as a presenter should be made by you yourself after every presentation. This will help you improve on key aspects of your oral communication skills to give better presentations the next time.