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3 Ideas for Improving Your Presentation Skills

Laura Armstrong
Laura Armstrong

Posted Sep 28, 2021

Written by Laura Armstrong - Consultant at sr4 Partners

In today’s workplace, whether virtual or in-person, we are presenting ourselves and our work on a regular basis, and how we show up and what we say matters. Introducing yourself at a client meeting, giving a project update to senior leaders, pitching your product to a new prospect.  Whether you dread these moments or seek them out, we can’t avoid them - so how do we set ourselves up for success? 

I’ll never forget my first presentation for a Speech 101 class in college. I had conducted a social experiment by facing people in the elevator and observing their reactions. While I was excited to share my findings and I felt good about my research, on the day of my speech I stumbled through my notes, barely looked at the audience and ended with a joke that landed flat. 

Years later, it’s somewhat ironic that much of my coaching and training work focuses on effective communication and developing presentation skills. I love to help leaders at all levels show up with more confidence and communicate with greater clarity and competence. 

Here are three powerful ideas to consider for your next presentation - whether it’s a three-minute introduction or a 30-minute keynote. 

1. Know Your Purpose

Spend a few minutes articulating the purpose of your presentation or “the why”. One way to approach the purpose is to ask yourself, what do you want people to know, feel or do as a result of your presentation?  Being clear on your purpose always helps you to identify and include the best content...which is next. 

2. Refine Your Content 

A common mistake is including too much information. As I coach on executive presence, I explain that the ability to summarize and communicate what is most essential actually conveys confidence and inspires trust. Ask yourself, what is it that your audience most needs to understand or hear, and then hone in on that...refining your message until it is crisp and clear.

3. Choose Your Tone

Depending on your purpose, the setting and your audience, you may need to create urgency, convey passion or inspire playfulness. You can do this through your facial expressions, audience interaction and using stories or anecdotes that bring your message to life. Dramatic pauses, asking rhetorical questions and even soliciting input during your presentation are all tools at your disposal to help shape the right tone.

We’ve only scratched the surface here, but if you approach your next presentation with these three ideas in mind, I guarantee you’ll begin to see improvement!

To go a level deeper, you are invited to my Ignite leadership session this week on Thursday, August 26th at 12PM CT ‘Developing your Essential Presentation Skills’ - or feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions or inquiries that you have on this topic.  I am always here to help, my email is laura@sr4partners.com.

Laura Armstrong

Laura Armstrong has spent over 25 years helping individuals learn how to present and communicate more effectively. Laura has trained over 20,000 individuals and has been the lead facilitator for over 500 Professional Development Programs coast-to-coast in 45 states and internationally in Canada, London, Australia, and the Philippines. Currently, as an organizational health consultant at sr4 Partners, Laura is proud to help organizations thrive; she loves to create practical training and facilitate memorable learning experiences for clients. Laura strives to help people gain self-awareness, improve leadership skills and positively impact company culture. She believes every voice matters and feels fortunate to be in the position to facilitate healthy workplace conversations. Outside of work, Laura enjoys spending quality-time with family and friends; she resides in a suburb of Chicago with her husband (Jeff) and their three teenagers. Laura is convinced that being a “Mom” for the last 19 years has made her a better consultant, coach, teacher, time-manager and learner. Thanks--Luke, Marlo and Ava!

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