25 Apr 2016 20:29 IST

Learn the art of skillful presentation

Is there a right way to present your ideas? Let’s find out

A presentation is when you get to display your knack for research, critical thinking ability, and domain knowledge. Those few minutes when you make a presentation are a lot more important than you realise. Regardless of the type of audience that gathers for your presentation, the truth is that they will let you put forth your ideas without any interruption.

The primary objective of any audience is to try and understand what the speaker is saying and look for what is in it for them. If you utilise your presentation time effectively, you could position yourself as a formidable player in the eyes of your colleagues, associates, clients, and other stakeholders. Here are a few pointers that could help you maximise the impact of your presentation.

Prepare well in advance

Once you know your topic, try to understand the objective and the context in which you are expected to deliver the presentation. Jot down five points that you would like the audience to register in their memory. Most importantly, think about how to retain their attention through the course of your presentation.

An even better way to keep the presentation in your control would be to examine if interacting with your audience can help you better utilise the time allotted to you. You could also consider alternative methods such as engaging them with games and other activities.

Practice makes perfect

Being eloquent with your ideas comes with practice. You will need to make a note of your ideas and structure them in a manner that one thought leads to another, forming a story that your audience can relate to. While you certainly cannot avoid expressing your opinion(s) during your presentation, ensure that you also bring different theories to the table with data that validates or nullifies them. And, yes, the age-old method of rehearsing your speech before the mirror will never let you down.

Expect the unexpected

There will always be a few curious individuals in your audience who cannot wait to shoot questions at you. It is important that you do your homework and prepare yourself with answers for these probable questions beforehand.

You are less likely to be thrown off guard if you have some answers ready as you can then handle unexpected questions gracefully. However, in case you do not have the answer to a particular question, tell your audience that you will respond to them at a later time, and ensure you do so.

Understand your audience

The tricky part about preparing for your presentation is to include pointers that resonate with different sections of your audience. It is important to do your homework on who is likely to attend your presentation beforehand, as this will help you understand where they come from and what they are expecting. Word your messages correctly, and work on your tone so that it appeals to your audience immediately.

Respect time limits

No audience likes to sit through a presentation that runs longer than the scheduled time, especially if there are others waiting their turn. Keep some buffer time so that you finish a bit earlier than planned. It is a good practice to rehearse your speech along with accompanying slides or documents, and time your entire presentation. A short and crisp presentation is likely to create a better impact on your audience than one that goes on for too long.

Remember that the crux of any presentation is about selling your idea convincingly. Stick to these basic principles and you are sure to win the audience over.