This informal CPD article 5 Tips to Improve Your Presentation and Communication Skills in Business was provided by UK Body Talk, the global leader in evidence-based courses on the psychology of communication.
Communication skills are essential in today's business world. The ability to present yourself and your ideas in a clear and persuasive manner is a crucial asset.
Many people believe that communication skills are something that you are born with, but the truth is that even the most gifted communicators have honed their skills through practice. The best presenters put in enormous amounts of work behind the scenes to achieve real presence and gravitas on stage. Following their lead and practising the techniques listed below can improve your presentation and communication skills.
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1 - Preparation is key
The first step to being a great communicator is understanding your audience and asking what they need to hear. It's not about you - far too many presentations are ego-centric and self-serving. When preparing your presentation, always ask yourself how your message will benefit the audience and what they will get out of it.
2 - Make a connection
After you've identified what your audience needs to hear, the next step is to make a personal connection with them. This doesn't mean that you need to be best friends with everyone in the room, but it does mean finding some common ground. It could be as simple as mentioning something you have in common or a shared experience.
3 - Death by PowerPoint
Audiences will quickly lose interest if you read off your slides word-for-word. Instead, use your slides as a visual aid to help illustrate your key points. Remove any lines of text that would encourage you to read from the slide verbatim and use strong images where possible. This way, you can focus on making a personal connection with your audience. Remember, you are the presentation, not the slides.
4 - Have presence
For many people, standing at the front of the room and delivering a presentation makes them nervous. Voices start to quiver, we create unnecessary movement, or we reduce our impact through our stance. The trouble is, as humans, we are pack animals. Whoever is leading must demonstrate confidence and authority; otherwise, the pack won't trust us.
One simple trick is to stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. It's a position often associated with confidence because gravity works optimally to keep your body strong and grounded. If we have our weight off to one side or stand with our feet together, gravity is working against us, and we can look weaker with less authority.
5 - Be congruent
The best communicators are congruent in their words and actions. This means that what they say matches up with what they do. If your body language is saying one thing, but your words are saying another it creates confusion in the audience. This is because we are hard-wired to believe what we see over what we hear. So, if your words are saying "I'm confident" but your body language is saying "I'm anxious", the audience will believe your body language every time.
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