A lot of sites and blogs offer great tips on helping you prepare a top-notch presentation, but I want to take it a step further. I’m offering tips on mastering what few of us think to prepare for: Your nonverbals, or as I like to call it, charm.
Let’s face it, your nonverbals make up at least half of how your presentation is delivered. Appropriate hand gestures, tight dialogue, and an award-winning smile go a long way in how your presentation is going to be evaluated, and practicing good nonverbals is a lot easier than you might think.
5. Be “Exemploraneous”
Okay, that word is obviously made up, but the goal is to get you to rethink the word “extemporaneous.”
An extemporaneous speech is one given without a lot of preparation, or to put it less harshly, a speech that isn’t memorized. Most of us operate by this style because we work better impromptu while remembering the basic tenets of our speech’s outline.
The problem is that we typically revert to reading off of PowerPoints when we don’t memorize our presentation, which affects our credibility. It keeps us from being, you guessed it, exemplary.
So I posit the idea of being “exemploraneous.”
Put simply, it’s okay to give your speech without a script coming out of your mouth, but memorizing things like definitions and examples ahead of time allows you to nail your presentation without worrying too much about what’s coming next.
The best part? This definitely allows you to focus more on your nonverbals when you’re not too preoccupied with what’s on your PowerPoint screen.
4. Plan Your Segues
Your presentation will be riddled with awkward transitions between major points, and awkward means awkward fillers.
Avoiding works like “um” and “uh” is a given, but we typically forget why we use fillers in the first place. The main reason is we don’t know what to say, or more specifically, we haven’t memorized our segues.
Doing this is invaluable for transitioning between each point and dramatically lowers your chances of lost credibility due to those small, unforgivable words.
3. Practice In Front of a Mirror
Not for the sake of being vain, of course.
If you’re like me, your default facial expressions tend to be a lot different from what you think your face is doing (unless you are a model I suppose).
That’s why getting a sense of what you look like while you are speaking works towards building your confidence and helping you practice your gestures.
2. Record Yourself
You also want to know what you sound like as well.
I typically use a tape recorder or my phone (though a webcam can be pretty effective), and I will find myself listening to the speech many times over in order to fix things like my volume, pitch, and even parts of the speech that don’t make sense or fit.
If you have the resources, practicing in front of friends or family can also be a great way to get instant feedback.
Aim towards being relaxed and confident. Being too rehearsed, while being somewhat beneficial, can be detrimental to your nerves, especially when you lose your place or forget something.
A great way to help yourself relax in the heat of the moment is to use stories and anecdotes to break things up. You’ll find that it puts you at ease and can even help you set up for later points.
Just remember to balance your speech well when using stories, as they have the power to overwhelm the point you’re trying to make.
Alright, good luck and don’t forget to get some sleep the night before!
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