10 Tips to Perfect Your Presentation Skills

Is giving presentations the part of your job that you dread? Not to worry, we have provided some practical tips that you can immediately put into action. With the amount of emphasis placed on sharing and utilizing data in the President’s Management Agenda, the demand for data analysis-focused presentations is likely to expand. Try applying these tips to perfect your presentation skills:

  1. Captivate your audience with a story. Use an analogy, a practical example, or a real-life scenario that you experienced. Lead your audience through the beginning, middle, and end of your story to create a new level of understanding of any topic.
  2. Punch it up with visualization. In creative writing, we say, “show don’t tell.” Utilize the tools you have available to create interesting, informative visual representations of your data. Even a simple graph can be compelling if it accurately communicates the story behind the data. As you prepare, try out several data visualization options to illustrate your story.
  3. Give them points to ponder. Include subtext with your main message. Every group of data has a backstory. Did these numbers reflect a lagging or rush period? Did any significant events influence the outcome? Help your audience understand the implications of your data.
  4. Provide engaging takeaways. Extend the value of your presentation by providing handouts that reiterate your main points and list additional resources in a visually pleasing format and style. Distributing a takeaway that is informative and engaging will help you catch the attention of influencers within your organization.
  5. Go with the flow. Although you may have carefully planned and rehearsed your presentation, do not hesitate to follow your audience’s lead. Seize the opportunity to educate and inform your audience while their interest has been sparked.
  6. Be ready to extend the discussion. Consider which related subjects may come up in discussion and broaden your understanding to include ideas that may influence or be impacted by your data.
  7. Use slides as a guide. If your audience can read, it makes no sense for you to read your slides aloud for them. A presenter’s job is to give life to the data, engage with the audience, and help them understand what this information means to them. Your slides should contain minimal information – just enough to keep you on track and equipped to explain key details.
  8. Work at it. If you are not experienced at giving presentations, believe that you can do a good job, and work on getting better. Join Toastmasters for practice, watch TED Talks to observe the methods of professional speakers, get assistance from a coach or mentor, or take a class on improving presentation skills. The more you work at it, the more improvement you will see.
  9. Come to the presentation well-rested and enthusiastic. We all have some days that are better than others. Prepare for your presentation by making sure you get enough sleep and be ready to be enthusiastic as you present. Set a goal to have your audience walk away impressed by the education and information you’ve provided.
  10. Practice makes perfect. Giving life to your data requires that you are confident in your findings, know what they mean and, if things have changed, be able to explain how and why it changed. Be ready to interact with your audience, answering questions that are within and beyond the scope of your presentation. Whenever possible, practice in front of an audience. Make a video recording of yourself giving the presentation well enough in advance to review and improve upon it. And most importantly, remember that we all have room for improvement.

For more than 45 years, Management Concepts has been helping government organizations succeed. We would love to know how these tips, and others you have encountered, have helped you hone your presentation skills.  Feel free to comment below.

Written by:
Natalie Komitsky
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