Presentations Skills Tips: Be Yourself

There are all kinds of presenters and all of them can be successful. Authoritarian. Motherly. Detail-oriented. Shy. Even Terrified. With enough effort, any of those qualities can be made to work for you in a presentation. The key is to be yourself and create a talk that suits you. If you’re naturally a little goofy don’t try to hide that—use it instead. If you’re a nervous presenter acknowledge as much to your audience. Chances are that they’ll find it charming and you’ll be able to relax a little when you’re not trying to hide your fear.

Just don’t try to be someone you’re not. Even if you’re a professional performer, don’t try to “act” your way through your presentation. Most likely that kind of performance will come off as insincere or even dishonest and there’s little or no chance of winning over and audience that feels you’re deceiving them at a basic level. So it’s critical that you write and perform your presentations in your own voice. Don’t try to be funny if you’re not naturally funny! Not everyone has to be a comedian, and trying to be funny tends to throw people off message. Telling a joke requires precision, which is difficult when you’re nervous and speaking to a lot of people. Presenters who struggle to be funny usually just make their audiences uncomfortable.

As a presenter you should strive to be someone people admire if you hope to be able to persuade them, and if you want to make a strong connection with your audience you really need to be yourself. Your personal experience, your reputation, your personality, are all important factors in your ability to influence others. But for this to work they have to see you as authentic; you can’t pretend to be someone you’re not. Who you are– your story– should always be a big part of your presentations. If your audience doesn’t believe that you’re authentic they won’t believe your message is either.

Here’s a good reason to turn down an opportunity to present; attempting to give a presentation that was created for someone else can be incredibly difficult, if not disastrous. We’d recommend that you just say no to trying to give someone else’s presentation unless you have enough time to thoroughly revise it so that you can use your own voice, your own examples, your own personal style.

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