4 Ways to Give Your Presentation an Edge

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We’ve all seen a talk or a presentation that has captured our attention or inspired us to act, change or deliver. TED Talks have thousands of compelling speakers that almost always follow the formula of one person speaking on stage, in front of a couple a hundred people. So what does it take to make an impressive presentation?       

Here are four winning ways to give your presentation an edge

1: Remember People are People

Your audience are people. They are someone’s partner or parent, friend or mate. Ask yourself would your partner or friend think your work presentation is interesting? If not, why would you bore your colleagues with it?

Like a savvy marketer, you need to understand who you are communicating with in order to be heard and understood. The best way to do that is to ask questions. Create a list and find out what you can about your audience. 

If you are working as part of a team, make use of the invaluable team intelligence at hand to answer the questions about who your audience is, what they are like, what their frustrations might be, and what are their wins. Find out what your audience cares about and be sure to answer the one question that will be on their mind “what’s in this for me?”

Yes, it is important to know your project, product or brand inside out but if you don’t define your audience and tailor the message to what’s in it for them, you risk losing their attention fast.

2: Own the Room

Wherever possible, get access to the room you are presenting in at least 30 minutes before time and make it your space. Set up the room for maximum impact. Check your audio visual needs are all functioning and adjust the lighting if you need it.

Having time in the room beforehand not only gives you a chance to visualise yourself presenting but it gives you a great opportunity to greet your audience on arrival.

3: Start with a Story

Some of greatest storytellers in the world are comedians. There are a lot of lessons we can learn from comedians on presentation skills, but how to take an audience on a journey through story to get to that punch line (or aha moment) would have to be the greatest lesson of all.

Neuroeconomist Paul Zak has researched extensively on the power of storytelling and why our brains love it so much. In this article he explains just how “stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours” and the findings on the neurobiology of storytelling that are relevant to business settings.

The bottom line, we people connect with stories. So find a storyline to weave through your presentation. Give them a story your audience wants to hear, the one that inspires and activates the action you want.

4: Embrace nerves like Wonder Woman

We’ve all heard the statistics about people fearing public speaking more than death. But guess what? There is significant research on the connection of our body language to our levels of confidence. What’s more, how we carry ourselves can not only affect our feelings about a presentation, it will also show up for our audience.

Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk below on the impact of body language offers an excellent explanation on how to almost instantly improve your emotions by adjusting your posture.

One particular power pose Amy talks about is the Wonder Woman pose. We love sharing this with WYE? Participants. This a perfect ‘Slight Edge’ strategy in that it is simple, easy to implement and can produce extraordinary results.

Here’s how to do the Wonder Woman pose

Next time you have to present take yourself off to a quiet corner or even the bathroom and do the Wonder Woman pose for two minutes. You know the one? Hand on hips, chin up, legs apart and chest out. Doing this for two minutes should raise your testosterone which will increase your confidence while lowering your cortisol level which enables you to handle nervous tension better. If you want to know how to be confident speaking to a group watch Amy Cuddy’s 20–Minute TED Talk.

Finally, a tip that Australian comedian, Wil Anderson, has shared to new comics: “make your audience feel safe”. Let them know you got this so they can relax and not be distracted or doubt you. So how do you make them feel safe? Refer to the steps above!


Presentation techniques that make you feel confident 

Having the ability to effectively communicate your project, brand or story, to one or many people at a time, is an essential skill for success. Here’s how WYE? help teams and individuals successfully deliver a message clearly, persuasively, and with confidence.