4 Ways to Become a Better Presenter Virtually and In-Person
Whether you’re sharing your screen in a virtual meeting or standing at the head of a large conference room table, your skills as a presenter matter. Things happen when you communicate ideas successfully. You gain buy-in from stakeholders, conduct more effective and efficient meetings, and establish authority.
All that said, it’s easier said than done for many to approach public speaking enthusiastically. Internal doubts usually aren’t picky about the size of the audience or medium through which you’re presenting.
As with any skill (or fear) though, the right mindset and practice can take you far. Here’s how to work towards beating stage fright and becoming a better presenter in the workplace.
Make Sure You’re Prepared
We all know what it’s like to walk into a meeting underprepared. The kind of meeting where you turn off your camera, hoping to fade into the background of talking heads and forced participation.
It’s something you can potentially get away with as an attendee but when you’re running the meeting, preparation is the only option. Especially if you don’t want people to walk away feeling like their time was wasted.
Get familiar with your talking points ahead of time, send out an agenda prior to the meeting, and avoid reading off a PowerPoint deck word for word. Additionally, test out any technology you might be using before everyone hops on the call so you can keep things flowing seamlessly.
Cater the Material to Your Audience
Who you’re presenting to should help steer the direction of your presentation.
If, for example, what you have to talk through is highly technical in nature but your audience is far removed from it, complicated jargon should be left at the door. Simplification is always preferable.
Similarly, consider engagement tactics. Tell stories, ask questions of those in attendance, insert humor where appropriate, and when relevant, advocate for a laptop-free setting to avoid distractions.
When people are nervous, it’s normal to want to talk fast. You’re trying to get out of the spotlight as quickly as possible.
While you don’t want your presentation to drag on past time, you also want to move at a reasonable pace. You should allow people to process what they’re hearing.
If it helps, record your presentation audio prior to the meeting. This will give you a better feel for the pace of your delivery, as well as any tendencies you might have to insert filler words like “um” and “okay”.
Practice (and Then Practice Some More)
There’s no “quick fix” to becoming a better presenter. Like anything, it takes time and practice.
Put in some time after hours and present to friends or family. Even if the material goes over their head, they can offer feedback on how you carry yourself. The comfortability you have around your loved ones could lend itself to valuable, blunt critiques you otherwise wouldn’t have received in a more professional setting.