Presentation skills enable marketers to effectively convey information, ideas, and messages to their audience. That may be a group of potential clients, colleagues, stakeholders, or the public.
These skills encompass techniques that help marketers engage, inspire, and influence their listeners, leaving a lasting impact.
A well-developed set of presentation skills empowers you to communicate your thoughts with clarity and conviction. It goes beyond just conveying data or facts.
Presentation skills involve artfully crafting a narrative and using various tools to captivate the audience. This keeps listeners engaged and persuades them to take the desired action.
Keep reading to see some of the most effective presentation skills you can develop.
8 Effective Presentation Skills
Say what you mean and mean what you say. When presenting, you don’t have to leave anything up to interpretation. Pick action words and be clear with what you’re saying.
Being able to cut down on your presentation is a skill within itself. You should be able to cull down what you want to say, leave room for questions, and not pack too much information into your presentation that you begin to bore your audience.
In the same vein of not boring your audience, you want to find ways to bring your creativity into your presentation.
This could mean thinking of new and exciting ways to present your information, whether through exciting animation, riveting personal anecdotes, or even finding a way to integrate videos into your presentation.
Staying on topic is crucial to giving a good presentation. Honing the skill of focus allows any presenter to stay on track with what they’re saying and for the audience to follow along.
Understanding your pacing is an important skill to hone so you don’t rush through your presentation. Knowing when you should take breaks and slow down will take time to practice, but it’s helpful to know.
Keeping parts of your presentation light is a skill you can hone in on, and humor can make it more engaging.
Add a few jokes to your presentation where appropriate, and pause for light-hearted moments to keep your audience engaged.
Interesting and engaging presentations strike a balance between humor and seriousness. What does this balance look like for you and your presentation? Finding it is a skill in itself.
When it all comes down to it, what you’re saying won’t matter if you, above all else, don’t believe it. The audience will follow you with your expertise and manner of speaking as long as you believe in yourself.
These skills take time to develop and can only improve your presentations. In this next section, we take you through the steps and ways to improve your presentation skills.
How to Improve Your Presentation Skills
Listing presentation skills is easy. Mastering them so you can wow a crowd requires more effort. Below, we’ll explore best practices that can help you make the most of your presentations.
Remember: When it comes to presenting, practice makes perfect. The more you get in front of a crowd and speak, the better you will be.
1. Take your time.
Understanding your pacing is a good way to improve your presentation skills. When you’re working through an upcoming presentation, time yourself going through your material.
Are there places where you’re rushing or dragging through your presentation? Here is a good place to work your timing out.
2. Relax your shoulders.
Body language is an unconscious way to communicate whether or not you’re comfortable. Understanding where your tension points are can help you relax during your presentation.
Run through your presentation at home and note how your body feels. Do you notice any tension in your body? Once you know where you’re holding the stress, it’s easier to take action and relax.
Consider quickly stretching or shaking out the tension before you take the stage.
There is no better way to feel comfortable during your presentation than having run through it many times. This way, you can understand your pacing, places to slow down, and places to take breaks.
The more you know the material you will say, the more confident you will seem.
See if a friend or family member can be your practice audience. They can also give you notes on your delivery.
In the vein of practice, you should work on sounding out your words to add extra clarity. This will allow for a better experience for those listening to you and reduce the opportunity for miscommunication.
Notice that you have a few specific troublesome phrases. See if you can replace them with something simpler. If you have note cards, you can also write out tricky words or names phonetically. You can reference your write-up if you stumble.
5. Figure out where to take breaks.
Holding attention during your presentations isn’t about rushing through your material as fast as possible.
Go through your presentation and find spots where you take a sip of water, where you would anticipate laughter, and where you take a second to breathe.
6. Figure out what you can cut.
This is where the conciseness comes in. There might be sections of your presentation that can be cut, places where the information might drag. Take a critical eye and see where to make it tighter and more engaging.
Time yourself to see how long your presentation is supposed to be.
7. Say what you mean.
Clarity is an important skill to have when you’re presenting. Here, you should think critically about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Avoid hyperbole when possible.
Always say what you mean, and mean what you say. Your audience will value the accuracy of your words.
8. Be a storyteller.
To engage your audience, weave storytelling into your presentation — more than 5 in 10 people believe stories hold their focus during a presentation.
Consider including a case study or user persona as a throughline during your talk. You could also develop a clever metaphor to explore throughout your presentation.
For example, you could compare your sales team to a group of loyal knights on a quest to share the value of your brand.
9. Memorize structure, not words.
Memorizing your whole talk may seem like a good idea. However, trying to deliver a presentation word-for-word is a mistake. If you forget or stumble on one memorized word, you may interrupt your whole flow.
Repeating every word from memory may also sound stilted to your listeners.
While you don’t want to wing your whole presentation, you also don’t want to seem like you’ve memorized every single word. Instead, memorize the structure of the presentation.
Get comfortable saying the different parts of your talk in many ways.
10. Present slowly and pause frequently.
When you get nervous, you talk faster. To combat this, remember to slow yourself down when practicing.
Place deep pauses throughout your presentation, especially when transitioning between slides, as it gives you time to breathe and your audience time to absorb.
11. Focus on actionable takeaways.
When you start your presentation, you have your audience’s attention. Now is your chance to hook them on what you have to say. A simple overview can be boring.
If you start with too comprehensive of a summary, your audience may feel like they already heard it all and check out.
Instead, focus on what listeners will get from the presentation. What are the actionable takeaways they will leave with? Then, at the end of the talk, you can leave them with actionable steps of what to do next.
12. Get comfortable with technology.
You might use a slide deck in your presentation or set it up over Zoom. To feel more confident when you’re presenting, practice with your specific tech stack in advance.
Familiarize yourself with both the software and hardware involved in your chat. For example, you’ll want to know your conferencing platform and practice setting up a second monitor.
13. Think about movement.
Are you someone who likes to walk and talk? Are you expressive with your hands? Think about how you want to move during your presentation and the space you’ll be in.
Feeling comfortable with your movement can help the flow of the presentation.
14. Ask for feedback.
You will never deliver the perfect presentation, so ask for feedback. Talk to your managers about where you could improve. Consider surveying your audience for an unbiased look into your presentation skills.
You’ll hear about what you can improve specifically in the future. This will help you improve overall.
15. Learn from other presentations.
As mentioned above, learning from past presentations is a good way to improve your presentation skills.
You may not remember every excellent presentation you’ve sat through, so we’ve pulled together a list of ones that we like. You can reference these talks and see critical skills in play.
Just as reading can make you a better writer, watching good presentations can help make you a better presenter.
Here are some examples of presentations we like because we use what we discuss in the paragraphs above, including good timing, thoughtful presentation of materials, and creativity.
You may not know Elizabeth Gilbert by name, but you’ve likely heard of her book Eat, Pray, Love. In this presentation, Gilbert discusses how anyone can be a genius. All you have to do is get out of your way and unlock your own creativity.
What we like: Gilbert weaves humor, lightness, and focus throughout her presentation. Viewers will enjoy her take on creativity, be able to follow her pace, and have actionable takeaways. At the end, listeners leave inspired.
As the host of “Ted Radio Hour,” Manoush Zomorodi is a professional presenter. During this presentation, she discusses how boredom can help you discover creativity.
Only during moments of stillness do we become restless and unlock brilliance.
What we like: The hook of the topic brings us in — everyone wants to understand how to make great ideas. However, the presenter and her dynamic energy keep us engaged. Zomorodi uses audio clips to break up the monotony.
She knows where to pause and brings in appropriate visual aids.
James Cameron, the esteemed director, knows a thing or two about storytelling. But before he created Avatar and directed Titanic, he was just a kid like everyone else.
During this presentation, Cameron discusses how his curiosity at a young age has propelled him forward.
What we like: This talk is personal, personable, and targeted for his audience to walk away with actionable steps and inspiration. Cameron also has a grasp of his body language. He moves fluidly on stage, even without visual aids.
Unsure of whether you should speak your mind? In this presentation, activist Luvvie Ajayi Jones shares three questions to ask yourself if you’re considering making waves.
She encourages us to get used to discomfort in order to move the needle and make a change.
What we like: The hook “I’m a Professional Troublemaker” brings us right into the action. The audience is left with questions and an interest in what she’s going to say next.
This talk is memorable, inspirational, and funny at times, striking the important balance we discussed earlier in this article. Audiences will hold onto “In a world that wants us to whisper, I choose to yell” for years to come.
Practice Makes Perfect
Mastering presentation skills is an essential asset for professionals in every field. Effective delivery and engagement are key factors that determine if your words make an impact.
By utilizing techniques such as clear messaging, compelling visuals, and dynamic delivery, you can captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression.