The art of presenting well is a learned skill, but even if you are a complete beginner, you can get a head start by not falling for these common pitfalls:
1. Never, ever, imagine that you can get away with not preparing and that when you stand up in front of your audience, you will be inspired to speak fluently and intelligently! It just does not happen and there is no quicker way to destroy your credibility and reputation. Remember the old saying fail to prepare and you prepare to fail!
2. Don't feel you need to include lots and lots of information you will lose your audience. Practise the presentation with a carefully-chosen audience (who you can trust to be helpful and objective) and you will be surprised how long it can take to cover a few points when they are involved and contributing.
3. Don't read from your notes. You may need prompts, but you should be well enough prepared to speak spontaneously about your content.
4. Don't get too technical in an effort to prove how much of an expert you are. Unless all the audience are at least as well-versed in jargon as you are, you will simply alienate them.
5. Don't be afraid to use humour. A little lightness softens up your audience and makes them more receptive. On the other hand, attempting jokes which fall flat will work against you. Know your limits.
6. Never give out handouts while you are talking, as people will instinctively start reading them and you will lose their attention. Remember to allow sufficient time afterwards for the distribution of handouts.
These points are intended as a general guide. As you become more practised at giving presentations, you will no doubt begin to learn some rules of your own about what does and does not work for you, and that is when you will become really proficient.
Andy Britnell specialises in sales and customer service training for the private and public sectors. Go to http://www.andybritnell.co.uk/ and you can sign up for my FREE short monthly newsletter and FREE e-mail coaching.
I coach corporate and SME clients who wish to fulfil more of their potential by thinking and behaving more effectively - see http://www.executive-coaching-for-business-growth.com/