To deliver a presentation that will impress your audience you need more than confidence. It also requires more than a mastery of vocal variety, gestures, and your ability to handle a PowerPoint presentation. There are several soft skills that need to be developed that will endear you to an audience more than if you master all of the other skills.
These soft skills are:
1. Empathy and understanding
To change an audiences thinking you need to understand where to start. In other words what are the members of your audience thinking and feeling right now. This is crucial to knowing the level to “pitch” your presentation. If you only know your destination and you have no idea where your journey originates the chances of successfully navigating are almost zero. A presenter who can tap into the current thought processes and emotions of an audience stands a far better chance of navigating their audience to his or her intended destination.
Organization is important on two separate levels. Firstly your presentation must have clarity of thought in relation to the ideas your are presenting. If your ideas are jumbled then by the time your presentation reaches its conclusion the minds of your audience will also be jumbled. Secondly, a presenter who is organized in their preparation will also perform better than a presenter who isn’t. Plan your time so you get to the meeting room early, don’t be tweaking your presentation as your audience arrives, meet and greet your audience. In other words get yourself organized so that when show time arrives your only focus is on delivering a great presentation.
3. Time management
This is somewhat related to organization, especially with your pre presentation preparations. But it also applies to the delivery of your presentation. If you have twenty minutes to deliver your presentation then stick to twenty minutes. Nothing will alienate an audience more than a presenter who believes that their presentation and what they have to talk about is the number one priority for everybody. Respect your audience and they will respect what you have to say. There’s never a good reason to go over time.
These “soft skills” aren’t what you’ll find written about in most presentation skills text books, but they are as important as your ability to use gestures effectively or your ability to use your voice to express passion. Don’t forget to develop your soft skills when you speak.