Have you ever been part of a below-par presentation? I am sure we all have. It feels like an endless monologue even if it is on the most notable subject of discussion. There may be amazing content and visual representation, but the delivery falls flat.
Why is that so, you may ask? It is because….
Public speaking can be stressful, and we overcomplicate the situation by imagining the worst outcomes. This leads to the loss of a lot of opportunities that could help us make ourselves visible in our organizations. The fear of judgement – that we might blank out or do something silly, keeps us working up. Fortunately, there are several ways to not only appear confident but also engage your audience.
Generally, a presentation either feels like a cakewalk or a probable nightmare. The main ingredient to any presentation is collating your thoughts and engaging your audience to ensure the objectives have been met.
So, irrespective of whether you are about to give a monthly project update or present on behalf of your organization at an industry conference, using these psychological tips will help you nail any presentation.
Know your audience
We are not talking about the hierarchy, age, topic awareness, or profession of your audience. But instead, knowing your audience’s learning style. According to the theory of learning aka the VAK model, there are three learning styles; auditory (words and sounds), visual (graphs, charts, etc) and kinesthetic (activities, sharing). These styles dominate how we process and retain information.
Now a meeting room or a team will always have a mix of these learners. The best bet is to have a presentation that caters to all. For example, ensure you have correct voice modulation to ensure important briefs, there are charts or interesting pictures to grab attention and finally have activities planned where you ask about opinions or experiences to help enhance the impact of the presentation.
Add something for everyone and practise your part, and this can help you reach the objectives of your presentation.
Curiosity has been used in the digital marketing industry. They use clickbait titles and incomplete sentences to reach the audience. Research has shown that when you spark curiosity, people will retain and learn better. The reason is that finding answers leads to an increase in dopamine and better long-term memory.
But how do you incorporate this in your presentation? Use presentation animations to leave information incomplete or omitted. For example: if you must give a schedule of your presentation, leave the final hours as blanks or when presenting a graph leave the point of importance omitted. Once the information is revealed post the curiosity gap you created, it will ensure distinguishability and retention.
Build a structure
Most presentations fall flat, as there is no structure. It is not just about the introduction, vital content, and conclusion. It is about how you express your ideas and ensure the objective of your presentation has been met. The introduction should be short and introduce the main themes, then you can go on to list or explain the notable points within these themes and finally create a clear conclusion.
Ensuring the structure includes the learning styles and a curiosity gap. You could probably use props, the whiteboard, or visuals to support your structure. Make sure the presentation focus is on you and not the presentation. Do not hide behind your content, make the structure support you and your message. Less will be more, both in terms of words and visual content.
It is no surprise, that surprise will lead us to recall information or events better. If you see a photo of black shoes set in a line but in the middle is a pink sandal, will you not remember this specific pink sandal? I assume you will! This is a cognitive bias known as the von Restorff effect, and this can help you deliver exceptional performance.
Now when you are building your presentation, you can tweak the colours or size of the chart to grab attention or create a surprise among a set layout. For example, if you must mention an important milestone use a different colour and increase the font size or when using a bar graph tweak the graph colour or add texture to it to make it stand out. The result of the same will be better retention of the information that stood out.
Break free from fillers
Fillers aren’t your friends. Our anxiousness and dread of silence leads us to use words like, ‘um,’ ‘things like,’ or ‘hmm,’ to think about what to say next. These lead to annoyance even for the audience. The way to fix this is practising your presentation or sometimes recording yourself to learn how you speak and your body language. This little exercise can help you check how many fillers you use. Now after you have pointed out the number of fillers, practise by being more mindful, using pauses and slowing yourself down.
These mentioned psychological tricks can help you ace or better your presentation skills. You can use our content library and gain access to more self-help content to reduce that stage anxiety. These can help you learn and practise through relevant materials. You can use the HappiTALK services to seek professional help to deal with your anxiousness or fear of public speaking.