Networking and presentation skills go hand in hand. Great presentation skills will enhance your networking efforts, and regular networking will improve your presentation skills.
I have helped many people sharpen their presentation skills over the years. Whether you intend to give a presentation at an event, or are just there to meet new people, there are certain things you can do to make sure you present yourself well.
When you’re nervous, it can be easy to rush through your words without even realizing it. Take a moment to be aware of your speech and make an effort to slow it down, pause and gather your thoughts.
An inexperienced or nervous speaker often breathes shallowly. They don’t take deep breaths but instead only use the top quarter of their lungs. This can make you sound out of breath, as if you’re running while you’re speaking. Take some deep breaths when you can - when someone asks a question is a great time.
Make eye contact
Making eye contact with the person or people you’re speaking to is good manners, makes that person feel included and shows you have confidence in what you’re doing and saying.
Don’t read your speech
One of the worst things you can do is write a speech and simply read it out. This doesn’t allow for any connections to be made with the people in the room, and implies that you don’t really understand your own message. Instead, have some cue cards, or if you have a PowerPoint presentation, use the slides as your cue.
Project your voice
If your audience can’t hear you, what’s the point of giving a speech? Even general conversation can be a struggle if you have a quiet voice and you’re in a noisy room. Projecting your voice doesn’t mean you have to yell. You simply need to stand up straight and let your voice come from your lungs rather than your throat.
Avoid the ‘um’s and ‘ah’s
If you notice the dreaded ‘um’s and ‘ah’s sneaking their way into your presentation, try to actively replace them with a pause or a deep breath in and out. The pause might seem awkward, but your audience will barely notice it, and it’s better than an ‘um’!
Stay and mingle
I’m one of those presenters that likes to arrive early and stay after I have presented. It helps me connect with my audience better and I usually get my best questions at networking time. Make sure you make the most of breaks and meals and use them to speak to people you don’t usually have access too! End of year events are a perfect occasion!
Being able to present yourself in a clear, confident manner is essential, not only to your networking success, but to your career success overall. If you think you’d benefit from some training that will increase your networking confidence, please check out our Business Networking Skills Workshop here.
Julia Palmer, a respected Networking Strategist and Chief Executive of the Business Networking Academy, presenting and training on how to create and manage networks that work. To learn more visit www.juliapalmer.com & www.BusinessNetworkingAcademy.com.au