Filling in the Blanks: Four Ways to Improve Your Presentations


We’ve all been there before.

Standing up in front of a crowded room giving a presentation, beads of sweat starting to form as your knees begin to buckle and even though the right word at the tip of your tongue all you can manage to muster is “But, um, well, it’s like...

There it is. Filler. Chipping away at your confidence and detracting from your overall message. 

Before you run off and hide somewhere near the supply closet, know that there are countless ways to cut the fat and improve your presentations that all start with you. 

Put on a Performance – No matter the subject matter or audience expectations, every presentation deserves a bit of practice. Step away from the mirror and take your material out for a test run. Grab a smartphone and record the results. You may be surprised to see how you move, sound and look on film. Go back and review the tape play-by-play to build your experience.

Engage, Don’t Relate – Though you may want to connect with your audience, remember who is out there. Chances are they aren’t your BFFs so don’t try to force the familiar. Instead, keep your presentation interesting and engaging with interactive elements, fast facts, jaw-dropping statistics and captivating images that reinforce your primary message.

Keep it Short & Sweet – Since the advent of the internet, attention spans are getting shorter which means you don’t have much time before the audience tunes you out. Take a nod from the ever-popular TED talks and stick to the 18-minute rule. Commit to your material in this time frame and the audience will commit to you. Keep things short and sweet and you may just garner rave reviews.

Slow Your Roll – Sure, you could start off by picturing the audience naked but do you really want to? Or, you know, just relax (easier said than done). Let’s face facts, inevitably nerves will kick in so rather than trying to unwind, try slowing down. Before launching into your first talking point, take a deep breath and smile at your audience. If you feel your voice start to quiver, pause and refocus before you continue.

And at the end of the day, don’t overthink it. Be early, be prepared and remember that with each presentation you give, your skills improve.