Giving a presentation may not be something you do all the time, but if you have the chance, it may prove useful to improve your skills at public speaking.
The presentation skills you build are easily transferable into other types of communication, from controlling your body language when running a meeting with your employees or demonstrating command of the subject matter when responding to a phone call about home automation design
Below are some pointers on skills for giving speeches:
Start With the Presentation
Remember that ideally you will not be reading from a piece of paper when you speak - you will be speaking to a group of people and making eye contact, possibly showing them slides.
Be careful with a slideshow. This can quickly become very boring. Some people might remember teachers who taught by standing in one place and clicking through slides, reading the text verbatim from each one. This might be appropriate for something technical, but it will likely be boring if it is done too much.
A better way of giving a speech is by engaging your audience through movement, sounds, and images. When you speak, enunciate clearly and speak in a way that sounds empowering. Move around the room if you can, because this will make the speech feel more dynamic. Additionally, you might want to use images to spice up the presentation. The goal is to keep people connected on as many levels as possible.
Another level to your presentation will be humor. If you have a sense of humor, use it. Remember that your audience may have been sitting through prior speeches, and a lively beginning with a lot of humor might rouse them from a bit of a stupor.
These ideas can ultimately be taken with a grain of salt. Depending on what kind of meeting you are giving – a monthly or quarterly message to your employees, a presentation on a field you know well, or a selling opportunity – you may adjust your approach.
Take Away What Isn't Necessary
With most presentations, you must identify the core of what you want to communicate and build the rest of your speech around that. Take away what isn't necessary or would be distracting. You aren't giving someone a show – you are giving a presentation to colleagues or clients, delivering information, selling yourself, or selling your products.
Consider a stripped-down approach when leading business or project meetings. Some of the best presentations are ones where someone sits down in a room with a few other people and talks at length in a way that is dynamic and assured, while the person makes eye contact with everyone in the room and seems perfectly comfortable and at ease. This is a presentation without any slides, humor or other gimmicks. It is just one person being honest, and when done by a professional speaker, it can be activated whenever necessary.
Learn to Give Your Audience Attention
The power of paying attention to your audience – no matter the context – is something that people will notice quickly and be drawn to. It may be the most effective tool of a great communicator.
In the end, if you can learn the skills to give a great speech, you will become a great communicator, whether to a room of 100 people or to one person. Such a talent will set you apart from other professionals, and will set your business apart from other companies.
Looking for training and tools on presenting to architects, builders, interior designers, and related industry professionals?
CEDIA’s Outreach Instructor program trains and equips CEDIA members to deliver continuing education to industry partners. Learn more.