20 Tips to Ace Your Next Presentation

There are many things in life I hope to accomplish, and speaking in public is one of them. The only problem? I shiver at the thought of actually stepping on stage…but lucky for me, I don’t have to do it tomorrow.

However, yesterday morning I did have to present to twenty people. My hands were shaking, I talked really fast and I couldn’t wait for it to all be over. I desperately needed words of wisdom as I prepped, and just a few hours later, I got them. (Better late than never, right?)

During yesterday’s NextGen online training, “Ace Your Next Presentation: From Briefing the Boss to Rocking the Stage”, I was taught 20 tips that will certainly help me with my next presentation. Maybe they will help you, too!

Speaking Tips

As with every new skill, practice makes perfect – but you have to make sure you’re practicing the right things. Lauree Ostrofsky, the Chief Hugger and Coach at Simply Leap, a career and life coaching organization, shared with us her ten practice tips to help you succeed during your next speaking engagement.

1) Imagine your best-case scenario. Be selfish. Think about what you really want. Is it a raise? Is it new business? Is it respect? Think about what you want from this meeting or speaking engagement and think about it as you develop your talking points.

2) Be your own rock star. You need to really believe in what you are doing and why you are doing it. If you believe that, then your confidence will shine through. You must drink your own Kool-Aid – it has to start with you.

3) The 90/10 rule. Most people will only retain 10 percent of what you’re telling them. So think about what the main point you want to communicate is.

4) The 90/10 rule. Therefore, the other 90 percent of what people remember is the other stuff — the inflection in your voice, you use of hands, how many times you pause, how you use your pauses, etc.

5) Show, don’t tell. If you’re talking about something exciting, be excited. If there is something that can be conveyed with images, use them instead of words. Ultimately, find the more creative path to showing what you’re saying.

6) Aim to be bored. But don’t be boring. If people are only going to retain 10% of what you’re saying, then make sure you’re saying what you want them to retain multiple times – 3 at minimum. If you think it’s overkill, it’s the perfect amount of times said. It might be boring to you, but it will be beneficial for your audience.

7) Practice spontaneity. Yep, that’s right – practice spontaneity! Plan for pauses, applause or laughs. Make notes and rehearse it, so when it happens in a live setting it doesn’t throw you off. The more you can plan for, the better prepared you are.

8) Footwear. Muscle memory exists. Make your shoe choice a part of your practice. Your feet will know the shoes and provide you one less thing to be nervous about.

9) Look at people. ‘Picture people in their underwear’ is a tip for the ages…but that is for a reason. Practice looking at yourself in the mirror, or better yet, anyone willing to listen to your rehearsal. The more people you look at during practice, the less likely it will distract you when delivering it in real-time.

10) The shower test. You’ve practiced. You think you’re ready. Now do it in the shower without notes…did you nail it? Good, then you’re good to go. If you have hiccups, then keep practicing on the things you got help up on.

Presentation Tips

Public speaking is only part of the preparation; you have to also deliver a presentation that stands behind your message, affliction, pausing and delivery. As Dave Uejio, the Acting Deputy Chief of Staff at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, put it: “Think of preparing a presentation as being the set director for an actor who speaks in public”.

11) Design the story. Set the stage and think through how the slides should be organized and delivered. What narrative will take the audience from point A to point B? It is worth the time investment to get your information organized.

12) Tables can be beneficial and effective. Make sure you’re providing clear labels and utilizing proper font size and font style to convey the story you want the table to tell.

13) Pie charts are worthless. Ban pie charts all together. They have limits in conveying insights and accurate proportions.

14) Column and bar graphs convey greater depth of analysis. Utilize clear headlines, labeled axis and clear differentiating colors. Attention to detail is important when utilizing a graph; make sure it is in-line with your story, too.

15) Waterfalls can demonstrate proportionality and magnitude. In any instance you’re hoping to use a pie chart, use a waterfall graph instead. Tells a greater story, takes a little more work but are worthwhile when alongside complimenting data points.

17) Infographics can be framed to tell a story. You don’t have to be a graphic mastermind; just make sure you’re graphically providing accurate information that allows the audience to quickly process complicated information. Check out a few here.

18) Avoid shenanigans. Don’t use data in an unethical way. Don’t put data in a disingenuous manner or manipulate axis/headlines to fit your story in an inaccurate way.

19) Create a unique presentation. Utilize unique color schemes and font styles that express who you are and match the story you are telling. Check out this color tool or font sets for inspiration and help.

20) Pictures directly invoke emotions. Use images to make your story more powerful, but only when appropriate.

With these twenty tips, you will be well on our way to creating and practicing for a perfect public speaking presentation. It takes planning to make it truly successful.

If you’d like to put your public speaking skills to the test, apply now for the NextGen speaker contest. You must submit your contest form before March 21st to be eligible to win one of five spots.

If you win, you get to speak on stage at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit. The NextGen Summit is taking place July 20-21 in Washington DC and offers training and tips on numerous skills govies need to be successful. Learn more about the summit..

More Resources:
Steve Ressler’s 10 Public Speaking Tips
– Ace Your Next Presenation – Training Archive and Slides
Upcoming NextGen Online Trainings

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