14 Tips To Improve Presentation Skills (With Importance)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 8 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Presentations skills are useful and a necessary tool for success, whether you are an office employee, a struggling entrepreneur, a student or a candidate attending a job interview. Excellent presentation skills can help you gain and retain clients, win investors during a pitch, impress prospective employers, or even score well in practical assessments at university. Applying some useful tips and advice can help you refine your presentation skills significantly. In this article, we discuss tips to improve presentation skills and explain why they are important.

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Tips To Improve Presentation Skills

Follow these tips to improve presentation skills, helping you achieve success in work, studies and business:

1. Do your research

Before presenting on any topic, it is important to carry out adequate research and investigation. Getting your facts right can help you deliver them to the audience more confidently. If there are any doubts, make sure to clarify them and have them answered for yourself before you address the audience.

When you feel fully convinced about something yourself, you can better persuade others. While doing your research, use credible sources rather than dubious ones that lack tangible arguments or evidence. Research can also uncover new information, questions and aspects that you may not have been aware of.

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2. Make an outline

It is always a good idea to prepare an outline before attempting to create the full presentation. Preparing an outline can provide clarity of thought, a basic structure, topics for inclusion in the presentation and the order they appear. It can also help you make an initial assessment of where the gaps may be and what needs attention primarily, and what you may defer until later.

3. Prioritise the information

While preparing an outline, you may encounter various related topics and sub-topics. You can discard any that are irrelevant to the goal of the presentation and prioritise those that are important. You can decide how much content and time you want to allot to each sub-topic based on this priority list. This can also help you avoid redundancy.

4. Observe good examples

You may learn better by watching others perform. Not only can this help you pick up tips and tricks that work, but also avoid mistakes that you see others make. If you are a student, you may have seen other students in your class do exceptionally well at presentations.

If you're a working professional, there might be a few colleagues who always present well. Observe them and try to find out what they do that works. They may display immense confidence while speaking, use good presentation material to help them, or they might be speaking at a comfortable pace that is loud and clear. Try to include these qualities and traits in your presentations.

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5. Practise in front of the mirror

Mirror talk is an excellent technique to boost your confidence when speaking in front of groups or individuals. If you suffer from stage fright or anxiety, practise speaking in front of the mirror to study and improve your body language, expressions, tone and voice modulation. If you don't smile enough and appear anxious, this is a good time to correct that. Watching yourself in a mirror while speaking is a great way to examine yourself critically without the risk of losing your confidence. You can make several attempts until you feel satisfied that you have mastered it.

6. Speak without notes

If you are new to making presentations and nervous, you might tend to keep looking at your notes while speaking. Try to avoid being too dependent on notes. Instead, focus on deeper research and understanding of the topic so that the thoughts and ideas flow more freely. Having brief reference points is usually enough to recall what you were going to speak about rather than repeating large chunks of text verbatim. Always remember the goal of the presentation and each sub-topic, and think about how you are going to make the points.

7. Arrive in advance to be better prepared

On the day of your presentation, arrive at least 15–20 minutes before it to do a quick equipment check and possibly a test run. This helps you avoid any last-minute technical snags. Additionally, when you feel more in control of things, your confidence level is higher. Being familiar with your surroundings before you present may help you feel more comfortable.

8. Use visual aids

Some people may have a short attention span if they only receive information verbally. Accompanying your presentation with useful and relevant visuals, such as images and clips, can help them focus better. Pictures denoting the topic of discussion or showing demonstrations through videos may also help you.

9. Remain focused on the topic

With wider subjects, there is a chance of going off-topic sometimes. Avoid this by narrowing down your research and topic to be relevant and of greater interest to your audience. Try to avoid diverting from the topic to maintain the attention and interest of your audience. For example, if your wider topic is leadership and you know you are going to present to an audience that comprises mainly women, you could focus on emerging female leadership in the corporate world.

10. Connect with your audience

Some of the best presenters and public speakers seamlessly connect with their audiences. Be more relatable by narrating an experience or a story. Tell a joke that is sure to get some laughs. And while remaining professional, do not forget to be as natural as possible. You can smile, respond to your audience's questions and doubts, or even confess when you are unsure of something and want to carry out more research. Encouraging your audience to contribute also helps you connect with them better.

Related: How To Become A Motivational Speaker (With Necessary Skills)

11. Use appropriate body language

This is probably one of the most important aspects of a presentation and significantly affects how the audience receives you. To display confidence, you can use some gestures like touching the fingertips of opposite hands, standing tall and keeping a small distance between your feet. Allow your palms to be visible to the audience as much as possible during the presentation. If your body language is too closed, the audience may find it hard to trust you or what you are saying.

Avoid shifting your weight from one foot to the other while speaking. Try to maintain a stable position while only switching occasionally to appear more confident. Remember to make eye contact with your audience. Keep moving your gaze from one section of the audience to another every few seconds so that they know you are talking to all of them.

12. Pause gracefully

While presenting, you might sometimes forget the next point or need a moment to recall something or frame it better for your audience. In such cases, you can pause a little and take a breath while taking the time to rearrange the information in your head. Avoid using too many fillers at such moments. Additionally, try to avoid rushing through the presentation or speaking too fast. Instead, be loud and clear while maintaining a comfortable pace.

13. Stay within the time-limit

While you may want to go deeper into the topic, plan your time well. Remain within the stipulated time limit. If you are presenting in an hour-long meeting, keep your presentation to about 40–45 minutes so that there is enough time for discussion or questions.

14. Use positive affirmation

Having followed all the tips and advice mentioned above, make a positive affirmation for success before your presentation. You might affirm confidence, spontaneity, and clarity in your presentation. Make an affirmation to enhance your strengths and boost your confidence.

Importance Of Great Presentation Skills

Good presentation skills are pivotal to success in various fields. You may not require these as much in jobs that involve more physical labour, but those that involve communication may demand this skill. In meetings, you can convince others of ideas, plans or agendas through presentations. Entrepreneurs seeking funding for a new venture might present to potential investors. Pitching ideas is much easier with good presentation skills.

Presentation skills are also necessary in education to facilitate learning by students. And if you are in a leadership position, you can command more respect and authority with this skill. Excellent presentation skills ultimately signify good communication skills, which are helpful in every area of life.

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