The ability to speak convincingly in public is extremely important because it largely determines how others would accept ourselves and what we’re saying to them. This skill does not always lay down in our nature, but there are ways to develop it if we put some efforts.
Spend some time to prepare the presentation
The thought that we’ve done our job on the preparation of the presentation well will certainly boost our confidence and self-esteem, especially if we've taken notes on the PowerPoint presentation.
Overcome the anxiety
People often feel horrified just thinking that they have to speak publicly. This is because generally we fear the unknown or we have unpleasant memories of situations when we had to talk in public. We are expected to just think about what did not work last time and try to learn from your mistakes.
Some of the symptoms of anxiety are: our hearts beat faster, our arms and legs tremble, our forehead sweat, we grow pale or are we blushed, our voice is trembling. The interesting thing here is that our body reacts similarly to strong positive emotions.
One of the ways to deal with the fear of public appearance is to repeat to ourselves that we are actually very enthusiastic. Let high adrenaline work for us, not against us.
Another trick is to stop thinking that people who are listening to you will judge or criticize you. Instead, think of yourself as someone who has valuable information and can share it with others. In other words, focus on yourself and not on others.
Move for a while before the presentation. In this way you will spend some energy and calm yourself down.
Breathe slowly and evenly.
Smile, even if you find it difficult. On the one hand, this will help you feel better, on the other hand, others will not notice that you're worried.
Master body language
It is important here to note that one should pay special attention to several things: the gestures, movements, posture, eye contact, facial expressions.
The posture: do not wait to stand in front of the audience to take up an upright position. It would be too late, because people start forming their impression the moment they see someone. Therefore, we must walk into the room with upright shoulders.
Walk with confidence when you go to take your place before the audience. Stand with your feet slightly apart, it is good to practice in front of the mirror. Stand like that for several seconds, until you are sure that all who are present are looking at you.
Gestures: you should use them so as to help people around you better understand what you’re telling them. Gestures will help you make your presentation vibrant and highlight key ideas.
It should be noted that the bigger the audience, the more expressive your gestures must be. This is necessary in order to let other people see them better.
Also, gestures with open hands are being accepted better than those with clenched fists.
When people in front of you see your palms, they will subconsciously interpret that as a sign that you are not hiding anything.
Do not ever hold your arm above the elbow with the other, unless you want others to think that you are very anxious and you need a hug.
Never point at those in front of you with your finger, because it will be interpreted as a menace or a threat.
Do not overdo it with gestures because it would create the impression that you behave too emotional or overplay.
Do not put your hands on your hips so as not to look menacing.
Movements: the rule says you can walk only when you make a transition to a new idea. You are expected to do no more than three steps.
Do not shake from side to side.
Remember that one of the taboos in presentation skills is standing with your back towards the audience.
Eye contact: the duration of the eye contact should be between 3-6 seconds, but not more. Look at a particular person, not at the group as a whole.
Don’t stare at the ground or at your notes, because the audience will lose interest and will stop listening to you. Use eye contact to get an idea of how people react to you said. Try to decide if they are bored, if they are perplexed by what has been said or they listen to you carefully. Try to act depending on the reaction of people against you.
Facial expression: in no case should it be exaggerated. Remember that the smile has an amazing effect on others.
Do not let yourself constrict your eyes, tense your jaw, frown or lick your lips. Often some of the above comes as a result from the fact that we preoccupy too much with things that we are about to say or get distracted by something going on in the audience.
In conclusion, we can say that it is not easy to make a convincing performance before an audience, because in order to make a good presentation it is a necessary to possess a set of presentation skills that are being built and learnt with practice. However, if you make an effort, the result will surely be there.