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Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time

Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time

According to Forbes, 70% of Americans agreed that delivering good presentations has been critical for their success at work.[1] Delivering presentations and the communications skills which go along with it are a big part of not only work life, but college, and school too. Yet it is something a lot of us struggle with.

I recall one time, in college, I had to deliver a presentation on a topic, and the person before me was so pro, and covered so much of what I intended to cover, that I was left there, in front of the class mumbling and stumbling my pre-prepared speech. Fear of public speaking (Glossophobia) is so common that a stunning 75% of people suffer from it.[2]

Of course, fear of public speaking is only one aspect of why delivering a great presentation can be tough. You may find yourself having to condense weeks of research and pages of information and data into only a handful of minutes.

On top of this you could worry about the format and structure of your presentation (this is a big issue for me).

As it is important for professional or academic success, all these stresses can make presentations seem nightmarish. But they don’t need to be. In fact, your presentation and public speaking skills can be improved tenfold thanks to a handful of tips and considerations.

Many, many books have been published about tackling public speaking, many therapists specialize on helping people with this anxiety (of course, if you feel like seeing one may help, go for it!) but great improvement can be made without too much effort. See the tips below.

Drop Verbal Fillers

Every-day conversation and talk is actually pretty strange if you really pay attention and focus on it. We speak in run on sentences, sometimes don’t quite make sense, make points that don’t lead anywhere, and most of all, fill our talks with little verbal ticks and filler words.[3]

Filler words fill our spoken sentences with words like “um”, “ah” “like”, and “you know?” words, that don’t mean anything, and are only there so you can keep making a sound when you figure out what to say next. Its perfectly natural and pretty much everyone does them.

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We are all so accustomed these elements of casual conversation that we don’t notice them. However during a high pressure activity like delivering a presentation we can start to become really aware of it all, and start to kick ourselves for making them. Whats worse, is that they may have a genuinely negative effect on our presentations.

The solution?

Get rid of them.

But how?

A good tip is to record yourself in numerous conversations, then repeatedly listen to them. This will make you much more aware of how you use filler words and will be good step towards dropping them.

Though we don’t like silences, sometimes not saying something for a second, and taking a breath may make you sound more confident than filling your presentations with fillers.

If you need a little bit more help, there is actually an app designed to coach you out of using filler words called Likeso. [4]The app is programmed to pick up your use of filler words when you talk and reveal them to you as a percentage of your overall speech.

Getting rid of filler words will also improve your communication skills generally and make you much more articulate, merely by clearing away unnecessary filler.

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    Inform, Educate, and Entertain

    These three intentions should be core to your presentation. The same ideas were the foundation of the BBC, and were big parts of all of Steve Jobs ‘ presentations and product launches.[5]

    Entertaining those viewing your presentation (perhaps by adding an element of humor to your presentation or other elements) will ensure they won’t be bored during your presentation. Also if you entertain well, they will be drawn to you.

    Informing and educating is where you convey the substance of your presentation.

    Practice, Practice, Practice

    This is by far the most obvious bit of advice, but it is also by far the most important. Before delivering your presentation, you need to know it backwards, forwards, left right, up down, every way.

    If you can, try to memorize as much as possible. This might both help with nerves, but also make you come across as more confident and knowledgeable.

    People are naturally drawn to those they perceive as confident. So, if you deliver your presentation with confidence brought from practice, you may turn those people you’re presenting to, from intimidating judges, to a captivated audience.

    When practicing consider not only the words you’re saying, but how you’re saying them, and your movements and posture. A presentation is pretty much a performance. A piece of theater, and you are the lead actor.

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    Consider your body language

    Though we tend to think that communication is all about what we say, and perhaps tone. It is thought that 94% [6] of how we communicate is actually non verbal, this is a myth, however your gestures and body language are important parts of your communication.[7]

    You could be delivering the most beautifully written presentation ever, but if you deliver it without moving, timidly in the corner with your hands in your pockets. You will seem uninspired and well..boring.

      The good news is, gesturing is perfectly natural, if you make effort to deliver your conversation with confidence, this will show itself in your gestures.[8] All you need to really do is loosen up and the rest will take care of itself.

      If we begin to pay attention to our use of gestures, we may initially begin to feel a bit self conscious and may fight the natural urge to gesture. Don’t pay attention to these feelings, and your presentation will be all the better for it.

      Don’t be afraid to bring in sources and ideas that aren’t directly relevant

      This really only works in presentations when you have a decent amount of time in a presentation. But if a part of your presentation reminds you of something in history, science, or literature and it seems relevant. Don’t be afraid to work it into the presentation. Mark Levy, president of the branding firm Levy Innovation,[9] and the writer of Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight and Content[10] says the following :

      ““If you’re talking about, say, workplace productivity, it’s fine to talk about Pickett’s Charge [in the Battle of Gettysburg] or black holes or an idea from an Elizabeth Gilbert book that, in some way, relates to workplace productivity. Bringing in ideas from other domains keeps people awake and interested, and it’s actually how paradigm shifts are born”[11]

      This makes sense, after all, why are books like Machiavelli’s The Prince or Sun Tzu’s The Art of War still so popular?

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      I don’t believe its because Renaissance era Florentine politics and ancient Chinese warfare are common interests. But instead the lessons contained within (though I’d be wary of those who pay too much attention to Machiavelli) have been used and adapted successfully by those in business.

      Whether to read out loud?

      The advantages of reading your presentation from a pre-written script are at first, pretty clear.

      Focusing on the script will ensure everything you say is valid and appropriate, will help eliminate filler words as you no longer need to think about what to say, and means you don’t need to spend the whole time looking at everyone’s faces and wonder what they’re thinking.

      The advantages are obvious…however they are deceptive.

      It is always a good idea to have something on hand like a script or sheet of notes. However, relying on notes or a script completely will suck out all life from your presentation.

      Also if you are just standing there and reading, you will seem as if you haven’t practiced, and by extension have little interest or knowledge in what you are presenting. This can kill off your presentation entirely. As such, if you don’t think you can memorize the whole thing, you should work hard to find a good mid point.

      Featured photo credit: Judson University via flickr.com

      Reference

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      Last Updated on April 1, 2019

      How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

      How to Be Happy: Why Pursuing Happiness Will Make You Unhappy

      When we talk about happiness, we often think about staying happy all the time – every single day, every single minute with zero negativity. Many try to pursue this constant state of “happiness” as their ultimate goal, and avoid anything that may take it away from them.

      But, what is the meaning of this type of “happiness”?

      It’s a lot like your favorite food. The more often you have it isn’t always better. On the contrary, when you only have a chance to eat it sparingly, that’s when you really savor every bite. So is it the food itself that makes you happy, or is it how valuable it is to you when you are eating it?

      Always remember that only by experiencing sadness do we understand what it is to be happy.

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      Video Summary

      Don’t Assume Others Are Always Happy

      Most people see those who have seemingly perfect lives and assume they are happy all the time. Since childhood, we are conditioned to chase the idea of “happily-ever-after” that we see in fairytales. On social media, everyone tends to share only the best looking aspects of their lives. So, it’s very easy to have a distorted view of what “happiness” is around us.

      In reality, there is always something missing, something lacking, or something unpleasant.

      No one has a perfect life. Even the most glamorous celebrities or the richest billionaires have their own set of challenges and problems.

      When we feel negative, we’re only focusing on a small fluctuating curve. As CEO of Lifehack, I’ve had to deal with countless problems, and some of them felt like real setbacks at the time. During those moments, it really seemed like these problems would be the life or death of my company and my life goals. But, I got through them; and, weeks, months and eventually years passed with many more ups and downs.

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      You need to keep your sights on the extended curve.  Looking back now, a lot of those “really big” problems at the time now seem like only small blips in a long line of experiences. Recalling them in my mind now makes me smile!

      Stop Trying to Be Happy–Just Be

      It’s natural to want to be happy as often as possible.

      So what can we do?

      First, throw away the belief that a perfect life means happiness. Personally, I would be miserable if everything was perfect. It’s through experiencing the pains of lifelong challenges that drives us to care for others when they are experiencing similar trials. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t be able to empathize. If life was perfect, you wouldn’t grow.

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      To be truly happy, stop chasing permanent happiness.

      It sounds like a paradox. But, what I mean is to accept that there will be ups and downs throughout life. Gracefully understand that happiness is a fluctuation of positive and negative events.

      Understand the importance of gratitude. Instead of focusing on the unpleasant moment, flash back your memory to when you didn’t have something. I like to think about my career, for example. When I didn’t have a career I was passionate about, I felt lost and demotivated. I felt like everyone was figuring out their lives but me. But, when I found my purpose and started Lifehack, I was deeply happy, even before I realized I would be successful! This memory keeps me going when I hit tough spots. It takes the darkness to make us grateful for the light.

      Happiness and Sadness Exist Together

      What it all comes down to is this: your life will be filled with beautiful, happy and incredible moments–happy tears and joyous shouts and funny stories. But, your life will also be filled with rain and storms that never seem like they will pass while you’re going through them.

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      But, whether your face is warmed by the sunshine, or your heart is dampened by the rain, know that it’s all part of the ebb and flow of life.

      Treasure the happy moments and power through the sad ones. Don’t try to avoid “sad” or “negative” experiences, and blindly chase being “happy”. In the end you will achieve a true level of contentment in your life, based on meaningful experiences and achievements. Being able to create growth and meaning out of both positive and negative events — that is the true meaning of “happiness”.

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