Briefing teams and presenting to others might be a key management task, but is it is also one of the most disliked responsibilities. If you struggle to present your views clearly to others try using the following tips to improve your briefing and presentation skills.
1. Watch TV’s weather forecasters. Examine how they present themselves, the body language and the words they use. What can you learn and copy from them?
2. Make a video of yourself presenting to others. How do you compare? Is your body language congruent with your words? For example do you come across as believable and enthusiastic?
3. Before presenting, ensure that you understand as much about your audience as possible (what is their knowledge of the topic, what is their background, what will they be expecting?). Once understood, determine the approach you will take (what information to provide, what questions the presentation should answer, what tone should be adopted etc.). What questions might they ask?
4. Outline your presentation or briefing by writing down all of the key points and in what order they should be presented.
5. Never write down what you are going to say – always dictate it. The spoken word and written word are very different.
6. To present opinions forcefully and directly, avoid phrases like ‘it seems to me’ or ‘it is likely that’. Use strong, ‘punchy’ verbs.
7. Illustrate key points of your presentation with real life examples that your audience will understand.
8. When asked a tough question, pause and think, do not shoot from the hip.
9. Remember the 5 Ps rule…preparation and practice prevents poor performance. Use a mirror or video to check whether you use appropriate expressions and gestures.
10. Learn to read the reaction/body language of the audience. Are they attentive throughout, do any look bored? Learn to change tack for example by asking a question to regain their attention.
Hopefully these tips will help you to improve your skills and abilities as a presenter. However, it is important to remember that presenting is essentially about confidence. In other words, the more you do it the more confident you will become in your abilities. Therefore, seek as many opportunities as you can to give speeches/briefings both at work and outside work with community or service organisations.