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How To Ace Your Presentations

How To Ace Your Presentations

In the age of the Internet, delivering killer presentations seems to be more important than ever. Those who can do it well get ahead. However, for many, it can be totally daunting. It’s not that the ideas aren’t there. It is the ability to produce crystal-clear content that is interesting and the anxiety around communicating it that is the blocker. If you want to improve your level of skill in this area, check out my eight points below.

1. Engage About Expectations

Whether online or face-to-face, it is important to devote some time to discussing expectations before getting started. Be upfront with your audience so that they known what to expect from your presentation.

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2. Keep It Compact And Be Clear

Neuroscientists say that the human mind can only absorb three to seven points in short-term memory. The inspirational visionary Steve Jobs knew this. His product descriptions were all short, to the point, and described the product in one sentence. He also sometimes used the rule of three: “Thinner, faster, lighter” and “The world’s thinnest notebook” are some of the most memorable definitions. Think concise and clear when writing your content. You will feel more positive in your approach, more comfortable about the delivery, and you will also have more impact.

3. Get Creative

Who doesn’t love a good story? The best advertisers are fully aware of this and use narratives all the time to connect us emotionally to the brands they represent. Top brand Nike doesn’t even mention its products in its ads. Instead, we, the consumer, are the star of the story, as they help us to achieve our dreams of doing better.

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Stories have power! Get creative in your communication and spin a good tale. Concretely, this means finding real-life experiences that you can use to illustrate your points. If you feel you lack creativity, why not try meditation? Research shows that mindfulness promotes divergent thinking.

4. Be A Facilitator

Understand the level of knowledge of the group and don’t underestimate their insights. Ask some open questions and note the individual responses on a whiteboard. Reinforce good responses and link them to the main points you are making. Sometimes there will be “outlier” responses that are of little interest to the rest of the audience. Demonstrate sensitivity and respect here. Inform the individual that their issue is outside of the contents of the presentation, but there will be 15 minutes at the end of the presentation for one-on-one questions.

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5. Wrap Up Well

Make sure to spend time wrapping up your presentation. Address whether people felt their expectations were met. This is the mark of a true client-focused professional.

6. Be Confident

Beforehand, find a quiet and peaceful place to relax and visualize being adequate. Don’t imagine suddenly being your favourite star on stage — this is more like wishful thinking. Focus on being calm, with a steady voice, relaxed body, and the confidence that you are prepared. Also, take some time to visualise something you already love to do with ease. This could be cooking your favourite dish, serving it up to family or friends, and explaining how you created such a delight. Now, transfer the feelings you are experiencing and see yourself presenting. Believe the tools are within you! You are already confident in other areas of your life and you can have confidence when presenting too.

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7. Be Calm

Practise “ratio breathing.” If you don’t know this powerful tool, make sure to Google it. Basically, watch your breath and let it travel all the way down to the base of your spine, relaxing the belly and letting the diaphragm move into it. On the out breath, breathe all the way out of the top of the head, constantly maintaining your focus on it. Think of it like a barometer. Breathe in for 2 seconds and out for 4 seconds. You can change the ratio to whatever works for you. When we feel anxious, this is a guaranteed tool to calm the body because it switches the parasympathetic nervous system on and switches the “fight or flight” reaction off. So practise it and use it as needed on the day.

8. Take Control

Notice the area around you — this is yours, so own it and fill it. Research by Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy has shown that when we adopt “power poses” – that is, manipulating our own body language so that we feel more poised and confident — testosterone increases and cortisol decreases, so our bodies really can trick our minds into believing we are confident. Practise this at home in front of the mirror so you can get comfortable with your new style. Also, notice any thoughts and keep the feel-good messages, such as “I can do this,” flowing.

Finally, remember you are giving it your best shot and bear in mind that your realistic aim is to give a “good enough” presentation, not to “raise the house” — although, with practise, you very well may!

Featured photo credit: Imagine Cup via flickr.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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