By Anna Pitts
Giving presentations is like marmite -- you either love it or you hate it. Here are some tips from the Graduate Recruitment Bureau (http://www.grb.uk.com) on how to wow your audience when presenting.
1) Lively delivery. Be excited about what you are presenting to get your audience enthusiastic about it too. There is nothing worse than looking out at a yawning audience, so don’t give them an opportunity to not be engaged by you and your work.
2) Maintain eye contact. Just like in an interview, your body language is crucial. Maintain eye contact with different audience members; don’t stare down at your notes or look at the slide show.
3) Be comfortable. All eyes are going to be on you so it is important that you feel respectable and comfortable. Wear clothes that are appropriate; smart for the business setting but not a restricting tie or tottering heels. If you look confident, you will feel confident.
4) Pace. Obviously with presentations your audience needs to understand you, which isn’t going to happen if you gabble on unintelligibly. Talk with a clear, strong voice at a calm pace so you are easy to follow.
5) Act. It doesn’t matter if inside you are a quivering, nervous wreck -- as long as you have a calm, collected exterior! Act confident and you will be confident meaning you can deliver a flawless presentation.
6) Don’t overload slides. Presentations are visual so the information you present needs to be digestible and appealing. Put images on slides for entertainment and informative value and keep to no more than six lines of text per slide. Use bullet points rather than long sentences, and set them to appear as you discuss them to keep the focus on the current topic.
7) Audience participation. It might not always be appropriate to give your audience a ‘task’ to do, especially if you are pitching to the top dogs. But audience interaction is a large part of a successful presentation, even if it just giving them some points to think about or a simple ‘show of hands’ question.
8) Practise, practise, practise. Being unprepared is not an ingredient in the perfect presentation recipe. Sure, sometimes you can put on an amazing performance completely on the spot, but for important meetings it isn’t recommended. Practise and prepare thoroughly for your presentation so you know exactly what you are doing and are able to answer the questions they will throw at you at the end.
9) Handouts. A thoughtful touch for presentations is to come prepared with handouts for your audience. Create a summary sheet of the information you cover; ideally include screen shots of the slides in more detail to include any key points. Distribute them to your audience at the end.
10) Conclude and offer question time. At the end of your presentation make sure you wrap up the key points and finish with the classic ‘Any questions?’ Allowing your audience the chance to ask you more specific details is professional and the final step for the perfect presentation.