7 tips to improve your presentation skills fast (Part 1)

I have spent more than a decade organizing and attending dozens of energy events per year. I have seen many hundreds, if not thousands of speakers presenting. I have seen them all: the good, the bad, and the very boring. Now I am fighting an ongoing battle against bad presentations because they are easily avoidable if you use a few basic tips.

Here are the top 7 tips to improve your presentation and engagement immediately:

  1. Learn this now: Presenting is about communicating, NOT just speaking!

When you are on a stage you need to leave behind your role as a scientist, a manager or a teacher and play the role of communicator. This means that it is your responsibility not only to ‘lecture’ but also to make sure that your audience is engaged and has received and understood your message. It´s not complicated, just follow the communicating principles to the letter

2. Keep it short!

No matter how great your topic is, nobody — other than maybe, your mother (who loves you very much) — will be able to pay attention to you for more than 16–18 minutes — sorry, it is the way attention spams work. So shorten as much as you can, ALWAYS.

3. Look at me!

Nothing worse than a speaker that looks at the floor, at the screen or the podium rather than engaging with the audience. Speaking might not come naturally to you, but if you aren´t looking into the audience you will be talking not communicating! Looking at people is an unconditional social convention, engaging with your audience will help you leaps get your message across!

4. Skip the pitch!

Nobody — we have already established this statement excludes your mother — is interested to know what you do in your company, or what you company does — if you take more than 2 minutes on that, your audience is bored. Explain why they should listen to you with a few examples from your experience and your company´s and move on. Sales pitches don´t work because people disconnect from the room.

5. Simplify!

Overly lengthy, complex technical terminology obscures the purpose of your oratory. You do NOT appear more intelligent or more accomplished from using complicated language or words. Steve Jobs knew it well: “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple” Steve Jobs is cool. Be more like him.

6. Priorize!

People will only remember a maximum of three points you make. THREE!!! So choose wisely. Because by the time you get to point 47 people would have forgotten 46. You may think making more points might prove your knowledge and intelligence… Perhaps you are right, but it will also make you a poor communicator.

7. Engage!

When you present you want to be memorable. For that it is important you use humor and stories to relate to you and your audiences experience. Involve your audience if you can, refer to points made by other speakers if possible and make your main points into beautiful stories.

Next post I will go through the main principles of designing your visual support document (or PPT) to be engaging and interesting and in-keeping with your speech; rather than distracting people from it.

If you have any feedback or suggestion, or want to request a topic, email me on belen.gallego@ata.email