Competence in presentation skills is a definite asset. Not only will these skills help you advance as an employee (great presentations help win deals!) they’re also a reliable source of steady income as a freelancer. Indeed, many today who need something extra aside from their regular 9 to 5 job, find moonlighting as a speaker a great way to make ends meet.
If you want to be a great presenter, and consequently get that speaking career off the ground, what are the presentation skills that you should master?
Delivering a talk begins with designing a great program or speech. If you’re presenting a learning workshop, you would need to ground your presentation on the learning objectives of the course or training program. If you’re delivering short keynote speeches, you would need to anchor your speech on an overarching theme or central message. A speaker able to structure their speeches strategically are more effective in reaching their audience.
Designing great content relies on two sub skills: research and critical thinking. If you want your audience to leave the auditorium feeling like they spent their time well, make sure you share something useful in your talk. You can prepare quality content by researching books, academic journals and formal company literature; or you may draw from your experience or ability to dissect ideas. Critical thinking helps you lay your ideas with logical flow in mind.
Public Speaking Skills
Content design is for behind the scenes, but what about presentation skills for the day of the talk itself? To deliver a talk effectively, you would need to be a good communicator. Start with the clarity of your verbal communication; make sure you know how to project your voice well, enunciate properly, and vary the inflection in your voice so that you don’t sound monotonous. Non-verbal presentation skills are also critical; you must be able to exude confidence as you talk.
Public Speaking presentation skills also involve effective use of presentation aids, such as audio-visual aids, hand-outs and even actual samples for the audience’s review. These aids should enhance a presentation, and illustrate concepts and ideas that can’t be effectively described by merely using words. Care must be given so that they don’t distract your audience from what you are saying.
If you have the opportunity, it’s great to make your presentation interactive. You can ask the audience some guide questions, solicit their ideas, or constantly verify understanding of what you are discussing. All these require facilitation skills. Facilitation skills include, but is not limited to, encouraging audience involvement, linking similar responses, brainstorming techniques, and throwing back questions to the group. A speaker who can not just deliver talks, but actually facilitate a group-centered discussion is a more dynamic speaker.
Lastly, if you want to hone your presentation skills, you must know how to gather and use feedback. Evaluation is usually a neglected aspect of the presentation giving process, but it’s critical to not just a program’s growth, but the speakers’ as well. Handing out evaluation questionnaires, soliciting the opinion of randomly selected audience members, and getting peers to critique a presentation are just some of the ways speakers can evaluate their work.
Leon van der Walt is passionate about learning and teaching public speaking and one area of focus where a lot of people struggle professionally is presentation skills, so he seeks to address it.
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