The fine art of presentations

Long-winded, sleep-inducing, monotonous and dry – you’re hardly going to convince your audience with presentations like that. The presenter shows slide after slide, explains a table here, a graphic there and doesn’t get to the point.

Add to this is some speakers’ nervousness, which only makes everything worse. We’ve put together some ideas and tricks for you so that you always make a good impression in front an audience:

KISS rule

There are countless suggestions for how to design a slide. But the KISS rule has been proven again and again – keep it straight and simple. In extreme cases this means: one message per slide. Because your audience has a limited attention span, too many bullet points, footnotes or badly placed graphics and images only confuse them. So make sure you deliberately emphasise key points when you prepare.

It all depends on the start

The way in which you begin your presentation often already decides whether the participants will listen with rapt attention or already switch off after the first few seconds. So consider carefully how you open your speech. For example, you could

  • start with quote or a rhetorical question,
  • choose the results of a study as an opener,
  • say something deliberately wrong to wake up the participants,
  • or tell an anecdote that fits the topic.

Most listeners only remember the start and the conclusion of a presentation. That’s why both should be spot on.

A good posture guarantees standing ovations

For the perfect posture when you’re presenting, you should make sure you’re standing firmly on the ground. Stretch out your legs and open them slightly. Your feet should be parallel and flat on the ground. Avoid rocking back and forth, this gives away nervousness and lack of confidence. Hold your back up straight and resist the urge to fold your arms.

Open hands are a sign of openness and trust. If you’re worried that you might start fidgeting, take a pen or an index card in your hand. Whatever you do, don’t put your hands in your pockets!

Stay cool

You’re well-prepared but you still get stage fright? That’s no problem, in fact it’s part of it! There are a few tricks to calm your nerves. Get a rough overview of the presentation room before you start. Where are the plug sockets? Is there a lectern? Take a look around, it will reduce your adrenaline.

Even if your hands get sweaty during the presentation or your throat feels tight – stay calm! Breathe out deeply. Don’t concentrate on yourself, but on your presentation. You’ve carefully prepared the contents. So what can really go wrong? Pick a person in the crowd who is nodding to you or looking at you in a friendly way. That will strengthen your self-confidence.

Here’s looking at you, kid!

Make sure you maintain eye contact with your audience. If you want to convince someone of your point, you need to look at them openly. There’s a trick for shy people: don’t look people directly in the yes, but move your gaze from one forehead to another. No one will notice this little difference, guaranteed.

What did he say?

Speak slowly and clearly. You’re better off not using any relative clauses and definitely not any convoluted sentences. Don’t emphasise the nouns, but the verbs. This makes it more dynamic. You can also keep the attention of your listeners over a long period using your voice. Raise and lower your tone, be louder at times and then quieter. This increases the impact of your statements. Remember to include small pauses so that your listeners can digest what you said.

The show must go on!

If for some reason you make a mistake, just continue. In all likelihood, you’re probably the only person who noticed. And you lose your thread, just stay calm. A short pause will be viewed as emphasis or a pause to think. Questions you can’t answer are also not such a big deal. No one knows everything. Let your audience discuss these at the end of the presentation.

Good luck!