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Effective Presentation Skills

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The opportunity to pitch your services to a potential client, spell out your business plan to a potential business partner, or promote your business at an event may require that you give a presentation. Whether or not your presentation achieves its desired outcome can be affected by your skills as a speaker, so it’s important to step in front of your audience with your best foot forward. The following points explain how to prepare, deliver, and answer questions about a killer presentation.

How to Improve Your Presentation Skills: Preparation

Stay focused & on your toes: No one is impressed by a presentation that rambles. Rambling happens when the speaker is both self-indulgent and unorganized. Your purpose and prose must be specifically directed to interests of your listeners or they will mentally shut you down. Even if you hit upon a topic of interest, you will lose them quickly if they can’t follow the logic of your ideas. Outline the structure of your presentation in a way that people can follow easily. Research your audience to make sure the topic is truly of their interest.

Mind your rate of speech: You’ve got a lot of material to cover, so you talk fast to get through all of it. If you need to talk fast, your presentation is too long. Plus, fast talk makes you sound either nervous or like a stereotypical “fast talking'” salesperson. Rather, cut your presentation down. If you’re talking fast because you’re nervous, write “SLOW DOWN!” on each page of your notes.

Don’t tell cock & bull stories: There must be a reason you are presenting to these people. Most likely you want them to take action of some kind.  Maybe you want them to get involved in an activity, or to make something happen in their own lives. They are not likely to ­take action just because you tell them to do so. You need to connect with them emotionally and inspire them to change their behavior. Stories do more for emotional connection than any other speech technique. Audience is very smart. Tell them compelling stories. The more personal and authentic the stories, the better the response.

Making personal excuses: You downgrade the audience’s expectations by offering an excuse in advance for your poor performance. (E.g., “I’m so tired”; “I got in late last night.”) You’re giving yourself an excuse so you won’t feel so bad if you fail. Plus, nobody wants to hear you to crib & cry about your problems to begin with.  Regardless of how you’re feeling, show enthusiasm for being there and put your best foot forward.

Reading from slides will bore them to death : Your slides reflect your thinking on a subject, so you read your slides aloud to the audience in order to replicate your thought process. Presumably everyone in your audience can read, so it becomes boring if it is re-read. Rather, use slides as visual signposts for the points you’re making rather than a written version or summary of those points.

Use Media Only to Enhance: PowerPoint, visuals and video are powerful presentation tools when used correctly. But they can be disastrous distractions when misused.

Do not ask for extra time: You feel you don’t have sufficient time to communicate your important information, so you request extra time to communicate it. If there’s less time because you’re late, you’re adding injury to insult. If it’s because your presentation is too long, well, your presentation is too long. Rather, adapt your presentation so as to fit the allotted time. If you’re late, end your presentation when it’s scheduled to end.

Videotape yourself – You can’t know how you come off to people until you see it. Recording yourself is the best way to target the areas where you can improve.

EnglishMate is a chain of English Speaking Institutes by Hindustan Times that offers a range of courses to help you speak better English and get smarter.

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Tips To Write An Impressive Resume

Writing a resume is often the most arduous activity of the entire job application process and one which requires painstaking attention to detail. EnglishMate, English speaking institutes from Hindustan Times, lists a few points that one should consider while writing their resume.

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How long should a resume be?

Most recent graduates should confine their resumes to one page. If your resume goes to a second page, make sure your margins are not too wide (no more than 1” left and right and as little as ½” top and bottom). If the headings are on the left, stack the words (e.g. “TEACHING” with “EXPERIENCE” under it, rather than next to it).

What should one include?

  • Name: Start with your NAME (we suggest upper case bold for name only), and complete contact information (address, phone and email address).
  • Certifications: List professional certifications and licenses with dates received. (Chronological Order)
  • Education: Summarize your education in reverse order, starting with your last degree or the one you are working on now. Include school name, city, state, degree, major, date degree was – or will be – conferred and honors.
  • Courses: To tailor your resume to a specific job, you may include a list of “relevant courses.”
  • Honors/Awards/Activities: Use one or more categories as appropriate, highlighting achievements such as scholarships, Dean’s List, leadership roles in clubs, campus/community organizations, sports or other accomplishments.
  • Research: If applicable, you may include special projects or research, highlighting significant relevant classroom learning experiences such as research projects, independent study, special presentations, and major papers.
  • Experience: Your experience, regardless of how you acquired it (full time or part time jobs, internships, and community or college service) is usually of chief interest to the reader. For each position, include: Job Title (followed by dates of employment), Employer, City, and State. Emphasize (put first) either employers or job titles, but be consistent! Describe responsibilities, duties and accomplishments, preferably using list format with bullets.
  • Skills: Of great interest to employers! Indicate computer hardware and software knowledge, fluency in foreign languages, or other technical skills. If you have several of each, use separate categories.
  • Interests: List interests only if you are really knowledgeable about something or very good at it.

How do you make your resume look professional?

  • Include no personal information: age, health, marital status, height, weight, religion.
  • Never use the first person “I.” Do not use full sentences. Eliminate all unnecessary words (a, the).
  • Never lie or exaggerate.
  • Add to the eye appeal of your resume by varying the typeface for emphasis: bold, underline, italic, UPPER CASE, etc. (Use italics for emphasis only – perhaps your job title – never for the entire resume.) Use an attractive legible typeface such as Times or Arial, not an old-fashioned font such as Courier.
  • Use “bullets” (•, ♦, *, −) for listing items under a heading description, such as experience.
  • Proofread carefully. Grammatical, content and typographical errors may eliminate you immediately from consideration for an interview. Ask others to proofread the resume as well.

What is the most important feature of a successful resume?

Here are some pointers:

  • Use action verbs to describe your duties and accomplishments, depicting yourself as someone who gets the job done: one who “created . . . published . . . solved” – not one who merely “participated in” or was “responsible for.” Avoid using “assisted” – say what you did. Vary the vocabulary. For present jobs, use present tense verbs and for past jobs, use past tense.
  • Emphasize skills and experience related to the job you want and to the employer’s needs.
  • When describing your experience, use detailed descriptions that give the reader a picture of you as an individual (“Adapted lesson on dinosaurs to learning styles of autistic children”) rather than vague descriptions that make you sound like everyone else (“Followed the curriculum of cooperating teacher”).
  • Quantify accomplishments by citing numbers, percentages, etc., where appropriate.
  • Put the most related and impressive accomplishment first within each job description.

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