When you were in school, did you dodge eye contact with your teacher? Does the mention of “presentation” send a shiver down your spine? I, like many, have my fair share of fears in presenting in front of groups. I would create extremely text-heavy PowerPoint slides, and I narrated word-by-word from the slide like a robot. You can imagine how my audience might have reacted. In another instance, I memorised the presentation script without grasping the topic well. Fear paralysed me, and I could not recall a single word when I was summoned to the podium. Never in my life had I wanted to grab an invisibility cloak more than at that moment.
Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to have access to a public-speaking coach during my university, who alleviated my Glossophobia. We worked through my presentation blunders and transformed them into strengths. She instilled a confidence in me that I never had before. Through practice and reflection, anyone can become an orator. As designers, it is important to master presentation skills since we articulate our thought processes to individuals who may not necessarily comprehend our craft. This article aims to offer advice on enhancing your presentation skills.
“Be the presenter you would want to listen to.”— Cath Daley (Leadership Coach, Coach Mentor, Speaker, Author, Persuasive Presenting Trainer)
Always be on the hunt for inspiration through others who do things exceptionally. This person does not necessarily have to stem from a big personality. It's good to ask yourself a few questions before choosing someone:
- Does this person present their topic in such a way that when you look around, no one is looking at their phones?
- Does the speaker have the ability to break a challenging topic into a digestible format?
- Does the person express personal examples to which you could relate?
- What was your opinion of the person’s body language? Did the hand gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions appeal to your emotions?
- How did your inspiration handle the Q&A?
In my second year of university, I was awe-struck by a particular professor’s lectures. His slides were aeons ahead of typical PowerPoint slides. Students always wondered how he implemented such creative animations, which were not feasible via PowerPoint. The professor piqued our curiosity and managed to churn out a high attendance rate. If you are wondering which magical product the lecturer used, you can check out PowerPointLabs. It is an open-source project that creates engaging presentations.
At this point, your imposter syndrome might creep in. You might think that you will never be as good as your inspiration. But hear me out! Your inspiration has confidence because they have put in hours and hours of practice.
Know your audience
As UX designers, we need to deliver a fantastic experience to our listeners. It will be a losing battle if you are unaware of your audience's needs. Despite your eloquence, if the audience cannot wrap their head your presentation, they will fail to connect with you.
Get inside your audience's mind and ask yourself:
- Who are they? What's in it for them? Understand the basic profile of your audience. Their goals and motivations can set a direction for your presentation.
- How much does the audience know about the topic? If they are new to it, consider presenting high-level information. On the other hand, if the audience is knowledgeable about it, they may expect to learn more specifics.
- What are they hoping to take away from the presentation? The response will be the north star in devising action items for them.
- How many people will be attending? Based on the number, you can think of which mode of interaction will be appropriate.
- What kind of concerns do they have? Address them and reduce any obstacles that might be there.Nailing this phase of your presentation preparation is like conquering half the battle. Keep in mind that the audience is on your side. They look up to you as the subject matter expert. Treat your presentation as a conversation that you usually have with your peers. That can help channel your anxiety into enthusiasm.