Public Speaking Tips: How To Give A Great Presentation

public speaking

Have you ever had to give a presentation or a talk that you knew could make or break your career with your company? It’s a lot of pressure, and many Americans are horrible public speakers. Even worse, it seems that there is always at least one co-worker in your office who has mastered the art of public speaking, gives the best workplace presentations, and seems to get the best promotions and raises as a result. And you’re always finding yourself left behind in the climb up the corporate ladder.

While public speaking is definitely an art, there are things that you can do to improve your presentations and calm your nerves ahead of time. If public speaking is a vital part of your job, or even if you just have a short project proposal coming up, these are tips that you’ll want to know about to make your speech run as smoothly as possible!

What do I do if I forget what I was saying during a presentation?

My worst nightmare is forgetting everything that I was about to say in the middle of a presentation, and being trapped without words in front of an important group of co-workers and bosses. While I try not to think about this and stress myself out before taking the spotlight, it’s important to train yourself just in case it does.

The first thing that you should do if you lose your train of thought is to try not to panic. It can be hard, but if you keep talking you’ll come off as a lot more smooth than if you completely freeze on the spot. It’s okay to admit to the audience that you’ve lost what you were trying to say for a moment. After all, they’re going to know anyway, and it’s going to be worse if the room fills with awkward silence. Plus if you admit that you’re at a loss for words, there’s a chance that a friendly audience member will remind you where you were.

If you’re feeling especially brave, you could try to make the awkward moment a little smoother. Use the pause as a chance to shuffle some papers around, pull up a new slide, or take a sip of water. Change the subject. If you’re sly there’s a chance nobody will ever even know that you messed up.

What do I do if I run out of time during my presentation?

When someone goes overtime during their it can be annoying for everyone involved. It might mean that you’re cutting into someone else’s time, or that you’ll never be able to quite get to the point in the way that you wanted to. There’s always a chance that someone will ask too many questions during your presentation and take up a great portion of the time that you needed, or that your boss will tell you immediately before you speak that you don’t have as much time as you thought you would. That’s why you need to be ready.

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Here are some ways to prepare:

  • Don’t read your slides to the audience – if you end up having to cut your presentation short, the last thing you’ll want to be doing is depending on your slides too much. Time adjustments can be made easily by cutting some of your talking points out of your presentation as you go, but not if you’re too dependent on reading word-for-word what you were going to say.
  • Practice – Most presentations I’ve seen go overtime were a result of not practicing before hand. How will you ever know how long your presentation is if you don’t practice ahead of time? Practice, practice, practice, and don’t forget to time yourself!
  • Get comfortable with your equipment – Did you know that it’s possible to hide slides on PowerPoint on the spot? Learn about what you can do with the equipment that you’re using ahead of time in case you find yourself in a time crunch!

What do I do if my computer shuts down during a presentation?

Last week I went to a friend’s presentation and her computer shut down for “routine updates” right in the middle of one of her biggest talking points. It could have been a disaster, but luckily we were prepared. I had my computer on me with her entire presentation already on my desktop just in case something like this happened!

It’s a great idea to have a friend ready with your presentation just in case something like this happens (and let’s be honest, routine updates and shutdowns happen all of the time). If you don’t have a friend in the audience, it’s a good idea to print out your slides ahead of time. That way even if you lose your visual for the audience, you’ll still have your talking points at your fingertips and the presentation won’t be a complete loss.

What if I say something inappropriate during a presentation?

Everyone makes mistakes, and whether you accidently swear in front of all of your colleagues or show up a few minutes late on your important day, it’s important to remember that you’re only human. Own up to any mistakes that you’ve made, but don’t let it kill your groove. As long as you recover quickly and smoothly transition back into the important points that you’ve come to make, most likely nobody will even remember your mistake!

The most important thing about public speaking is to stay calm. If you’re too nervous your audience will catch on. Remember that practice makes perfect and that your colleagues are forgiving people. After all, everybody has to give an important presentation at some point, and we’ve all been nervous wrecks ahead of time. Don’t stress, just do your thing!

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One Comment »

  • Steven says:

    Very nice post :) My teachers should read this! Maybe then their presentations would not be so boring..

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