4 Tricks for a Killer Presentation

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This past weekend Jonathan @jrh_graphics and I teamed up with Dani Sauter @blonde_inthedistrict and Callum from @cephotogs to do a collab styled photo shoot on 14th street in D.C. Oh what fun that was!

Dani is one of the most driven and down to earth entrepreneurs I've ever met. From first greet to goodbye hug, it was laughs, stories, and this deep down acknowledgement between us on what it's like to build a vibrant creative business in the heart of the Nation's Capital. What prompted this week's post was Dani mentioning that she has an incredible opportunity to MC an event this Fall and so I shared a couple of my best tricks and tips for rocking it. Here are my tips to share more with all of you!

Let's say, like Dani, you’ve been asked to give a presentation to the client, team, or perhaps for a big audience. You feel the nerves start to creep up as soon as you’re asked. Your palms begin to sweat, and your stomach feels like a pit of doom. All this before you’ve even begun preparing!

If you’ve felt alone in this, stop right there. I get asked all the time about the secret sauce to giving a compelling and engaging presentation. I’ve been in your shoes and I know how scary it can feel at first and how overwhelming it can be to figure out where to begin.

These are some of the most impactful tools I’ve used to create presence and successfully deliver any type of information leaving the audience engaged, educated, and entertained.

1. Memorize, Memorize, Memorize!
Have you ever seen a presentation where the speaker is reading their notes and avoiding eye contact? If you do this, it will create a lot of distance between you and the audience. The audience will feel instantly disengaged and you don’t want that.

Instead, think of a presentation as a conversation with your audience. Keep your notes tucked away and focus on the audience instead. Whether or not you are talking to a group of 3 or a group of 300, being present is a sure way to attract their attention to you and be with your presence. Having your content memorized will make it easier for you to interact with the audience instead of figuring out what page you are on in your notes.

For my favorite resource to help you remember literally ANYTHING, watch this Ted Talk by science writer, Joshua Foer. He describes the technique — called the memory palace — and shows off its most remarkable feature: anyone can learn how to use it, including him.

2. Rock Your Confidence Pose
Over 55% of what the audience will respond to will be from your body language. Believe it or not, how you stand speaks more to the audience than what you actually say.

An Executive Coach once told me that how far apart you hold your hands will be how much money you want to make. From that moment on, I got very conscious of how I presented my hands after hearing that. The closer you hold your hands, the more you contract your body towards your center, showing insecurity. Instead, spread your hands apart, align your legs with your hips, avoid bringing them together, and notice how your chest opens up and your voice will project more. You will convey greater confidence in your knowledge of the material.

3. Get Your Gestures
During your next presentation, don’t be afraid to move your hands to convey a key point that you’re trying to make. The grander the motion, the better so that it emphasizes your point more. Gestures will become more natural when you have practiced this so spread those arms and project your point as you prepare for your presentation. The audience will be more engaged with you and believe in what you’re saying.

4. Be Bold
Be bold in how you speak during the presentation. After all, 38% of your credibility is coming from how the audience is hearing you. You can use this to your advantage and match your tone with bigger body language we discussed above to project confidence. Have a bit of fun as well if your audience is open to that. Surprise them and do something unexpected.

All of these tips may feel awkward at first but remember that your audience wants to connect with you in some way. Even if they hold a straight face, don’t underestimate their enjoyment. I’ve been approached by the most stern audience members with glowing reviews after the presentation. You never know who will benefit from your messages, so keep at it!