Everyone is getting used to the new way of working after working from home during the epidemic.  As people are starting to return to the office, they are finding out that preparing presentations to give to their colleagues is not easy, and they want to improve their skills.  While everyone is glad to be having face-to-face meetings again, making presentations is difficult, particularly for people who are being assessed by their managers.  Also many people don’t have much experience with public-speaking and find that giving presentations is stressful.

Here’s 4 tips to improve your speaking skills and gain confidence:

  1. Your speech needs a beginning, middle and end. You should begin your speech by saying what you will talk about.  During the speech you should ‘signpost’ to the audience to show your progress through the speech.  For example, at the start you could say, ‘I will give 5 reasons why we should do this’. And then you introduce each new topic with a number.  The conclusion summarises what you have just said.
  2. Some people have heard that you shouldn’t over-prepare a presentation, while it’s true that reading a script word-by-word can look a bit ‘wooden’, there is no substitute for lots of preparation.  Some speakers write out every word of their speech, and then make edits to their script, until they are confident that the speech is complete.   Another way to prepare is to write out an outline of the speech with bullet points listed for each topic to be covered, so you can remember every topic.
  3. Don’t go into detail in the speech, unless it is a technical speech, as non-technical people will lose interest.  You should think about how the audience will hear the speech, are they interested in the topic, or are they there because they are required in the meeting?
  4. A well-known phrase is ‘Death by PowerPoint’.  Less experienced speakers are in the habit of reading out the slides, this often causes  the listeners to switch off.  Slides should be limited to a few short sentences or a short list, slides with pictures look much more professional and the audience feels like the presenter is experienced.

Joining a speaking club is a good way to improve your presentation skills and gain confidence.  Some people go to club meetings to prepare to make a wedding speech, others want to learn how to make presentations for work and practice in a safe environment away from the workplace. Godalming speakers is a friendly club that meets every other week.