Making an Impression with Your Presentation

Whether you’re a student or a professional, the chances are good that you’ll someday find yourself making an important presentation. You’ll want to make sure that your point comes across, and you’ll want to look good doing it — good enough to impress your boss or other higher-ups.

But that’s easier said than done, which is why we are here to help. Below are just a few tips for giving presentations that will make a great impression on the people you need to impress.

Tailor your presentation to your audience

Before you even start practicing and fine-tuning your presentation, you’ll need to actually plan it and write out your talk. You’ll need to prepare visual aids and handouts. And doing all of this in the right way requires more than just knowing your subject — you need to know your audience’s needs, too.

Tailor your presentation to your audience’s needs and desires. Don’t just inform — offer insights and solutions. Make your case relevant to your audience, and you’ll be sure to have everyone’s attention.

Perfect the little details

It’s called a “presentation” for a reason. The way that you present yourself and your material will have a lot to do with how successful your presentation is. You may not think that things like the font that you use in your PowerPoint or the shirt that you wear for your talk will matter, but they do.

So invest in great materials like custom presentation folders. Slap logos on things and tweak fonts until they look professional and dignified. Check for silly typos. Adjust colors until everything is legible and neat.

And dress for success, too. How you dress for a presentation will have a huge impact on how seriously you are taken. Dress professionally — when in doubt, aim for the high end of business casual. Check your fit and keep your clothes in good shape, so that you look sharp. There’s a difference between checking the boxes on professional attire and looking like you belong in your dignified getup.

Practice, practice, practice

Knowing your material is not enough to get you through your presentation. You may not think that you need practice, but you do. You need to practice actually saying these things that you know, no matter how well you know them.

As you get closer to the day of your presentation, try to practice in a presentation-like atmosphere. Actually stand up and address an imaginary audience — or, if you have some tolerant friends and family members, a real one. Use all the materials that you’ll use on the big day, and dress the way you’ll dress when you actually give your talk. The more realistic your practice environment is, the better you’ll feel when you’re actually giving your talk.

Don’t worry that rehearsing will make you look inauthentic, experts say. It’ll do just the opposite. You’ll feel looser and more confident when you know your routine and your script as well as you know your material.

Keep your cool

Presentations can be extremely stressful. When the time comes for you to get up in front of a big group and make your points, you may find yourself so worried that you make silly mistakes. That’s no good, so make it a point to calm yourself down.Extensive preparations can make you calmer, of course, and you should always make sure that you’re ready to give your talk. But our fears aren’t always rational, so be prepared to deal with nerves even if you know your presentation cold. Fight back by using relaxation techniques. You may even want to meditate before giving your presentation.