How comfortable are you speaking in front of a crowd? Public speaking is an extremely common fear; however, professional positions involve at least occasional presentations in front of colleagues, clients, or the general public. Not only are these events necessary, but they can be an excellent opportunity to showcase your professional expertise and ability to command a room. Learning to give a presentation that leaves an impression can help advance your career.
Consider these three aspects to make your presentations one of your most powerful professional tools.
- Don’t be afraid to make eye contact. During a presentation, a lot of people look at the ceiling or inanimate objects. Making eye contact with the audience can help you to establish a connection. Make eye contact for a short period of time (3-5 seconds) with individual members of the audience, moving your gaze to different parts of the room to keep everyone engaged.
- Take time to relax in advance. If you are tense it will make the audience tense and uncomfortable too. Take a few minutes before your presentation to relax in a quiet space. Take deep breaths and concentrate on your breathing. Doing physical relaxation exercises, such as neck or shoulder rolls or stretches can help to physically relax you and result in a more natural posture while presenting.
- Maintain a strong, clear voice. It doesn’t matter how strong your presentation is if your voice is weak or unpleasant. Remember: your breath is the power behind your voice. Take deep breaths from your abdomen, not your chest, as you speak. Pause at appropriate moments in your presentation to take additional breaths. Having a bottle of water at hand is also crucial for staying hydrated and keeping your voice strong and clear.
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