Improve your PowerPoint presentation skills

Presenting your first PowerPoint presentation can be a challenge. Standing in front of an audience trying to remember all of your key arguments and answering any questions.

Presentation advice

Whilst for many, presenting may seem to come naturally, there are many of us who dread the very thought of standing in front of a group of people and having their eyes focused and attention aimed directly.

For those of us with presentation nerves or concerns, and for those who wish simply to improve on their presentation skills and techniques, here are some tips to help make your next presentation a successful venture.

Know your material Knowing your material thoroughly, will help you decide what information is essential to your presentation and what can be left out. It will help your presentation to flow more naturally, allowing you to adjust to unexpected questions or events, and it will help you feel more comfortable when speaking in front of an audience.

Rehearse your presentation Rehearse your presentation out loud with your actual PowerPoint slide show. If possible, get someone to listen while you rehearse. Have the person sit at the back of the room so you can practice speaking loudly and clearly. Ask your listener for honest feedback about your presentation skills. Make changes where necessary and run through the whole show again. Keep repeating until you feel comfortable with the process.

Pace yourself As part of your practice, learn to pace your presentation. Generally, you should spend about one minute per slide. If there are time constraints, make sure that the presentation will finish on time. During your delivery, be ready to adjust your pace in case you need to clarify information for your audience or answer questions.

Do not speak to your PowerPoint presentation slides Many presenters watch their PowerPoint presentation rather than their audience. You made the slides, so you already know what is on them. Turn to your audience and make eye contact with them. It will make it easier for them to hear what you are saying, and they will find your presentation much more interesting.

Learn to navigate your PowerPoint presentation Audiences often ask to see the previous screen again. Practice moving forwards and backwards through your presentation slides. With PowerPoint you can also move through your presentation non-sequentially. Learn how to jump ahead or back to a certain slide without having to go through your entire presentation.