A key to effective presentations is nailing the content. You want to engage your audience with compelling, logical and concise messages that capture your main point or any action step. However, while the messages really matter, your content is also reinforced by what you don’t say. Your body language – everything from your hand gestures to eye contact to your stage presence – may speak just as loudly as your words.
Whenever our Linhart PR coaches provide presentation training to executives, we focus not only on the content but also the delivery, including non-verbal cues that can help fully capture the emotions and attention of your audience. Here are four tips to try as you’re preparing and practicing for your next presentation:
- Practice your presentation by standing. When you stand, you can work on your posture, breathing and natural hand gestures that should complement your messages versus being a possible distraction for your audience. In addition, your on-stage presentation shouldn’t be the first time you’ve given your speech standing, which feels much different than sitting. You want to build your confidence and comfort level by simulating the actual experience.
- Map out your general movements and location. You don’t leave your content to chance and the same should go for how and where you’ll stand or move on stage. Know the room and audio-visual set-up in advance. If there’s a presentation screen in the middle of the stage – stand to one side or the other. Avoid moving back and forth in front of the screen, which blocks the view for your audience. Pick a small space (say a 3- to 5-foot square, depending on the room size) to walk within at specific points in your presentation to minimize pacing. For example, if your speech has three key sections – move a few steps in one direction and then stop to signal and present each new section. Overall, make your movements meaningful and logical to support your content.
- Go larger. Your energy level is shown in your facial expressions, posture and body language. You may need to be more animated than feels natural to you or than you’d typically be in an everyday conversation. As the size of the room and audience grows larger – so too must your non-verbal expressions.
- Make eye contact. You’ll be connecting with the audience through your content and stories. You’ll also connect with the audience through eye contact. To start your presentation strong, pick a particular person in the middle of the audience to look at and speak to directly. Then, during your presentation, maintain eye contact with various individuals for about three to five seconds – the normal length for any one-on-one conversation.
Have any additional tips or need additional support for your next presentation? Contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or our team to learn how we can help.