How do you improve your presentation skills?

I have always dreamed of being a great orator – unfortunately it wasn’t to be. However, I do consider myself a competent public speaker. The feedback on my presentations is usually good and you have to accept that rarely does anyone please all the people all the time. Presentation skills are important in developing a finance career. So how do you improve them?

First a plug - join us on 7th March at Iron Mongers’ Hall for ‘Presentation skills – learning to act your way through.’ You’ll pick up some great ideas from Paul Ryan. I have seen him before and learnt a lot. Register here.

Apart from that practice is key. I joined Toastmasters International to speak regularly and get feedback. Overcoming nerves comes through getting up, speaking and realising nothing catastrophic will happen. I remember someone coming along to a Toastmasters meeting to give his first speech. He was so nervous that he was difficult to hear, he stumbled over words and he delivered no coherent message. But he had conquered his initial fear. By his tenth speech, a few months later, he was brilliant. Toastmasters took me from OK to good, it took him from bad to exceptional.

Finding a style that reflects who you are also makes a big difference. I have valued presenters who are laid-back, passionate, humorous, serious, structured, free-flowing and so on. The common factor was authenticity. What style will work best for you and how can you adapt that style for your audience?

Preparation is essential. We need to know our audience, the messages we want to convey and the impact we hope to have. Thinking about it and putting together a slide deck is not enough. We have to speak out loud what you are going to say. It is only then we get a sense of how our ideas are going to come across, what sounds right and whether we will stick to time.

I’m looking forward to the 7th. Hope to see you there.