Are you confident in your slides’ quality, yet your audience still tunes out? Take a step back and analyze how you speak.
It’s your job as a speaker to stimulate engagement and effectively get your message across.
Here are four simple ways to help you deliver a clear and concise presentation.
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1. Use Precise Words
There are many ways to express one idea, but clarity shouldn’t be sacrificed for novelty.
Cut down your speech while giving life to your words by using precise language. Choose words that most accurately depict what you want to convey.
Note the difference in the following paired sentences:
Good: “Some audiences prefer eye contact to establish strong emotional connections.”
Better: “70% of audiences use eye contact to form emotional connections.”
The second example gave an actual statistic to help the audience visualize what it truly meant. In the same way, let your audience know what exactly you’re talking about by giving more precise examples.
2. Use Familiar and Easy-to-Understand Words
Public speaking demands that the speaker is understood easily and instantly.
It’s not the best time to show off your extensive vocabulary.
Your audience won’t have time to check their dictionaries, so keep your word choices simple and straight to the point. For example:
“A ubiquitous technique among presenters is the projection of a precarious method in order to indemnify their audience’s attention.”
The previous sentence is not only difficult to understand, it also makes the speaker seem highfaluting. This may cost you your credibility, so instead of difficult jargon, say “common” instead of “ubiquitous,” “risky” instead of “precarious,” and “ensure” instead of “indemnify.”
3. Use Short and Simply Constructed Sentences
Even the most intent listeners can lose track of long and complicated sentences.
Express complex ideas by using easily understood sentences. Refer to the following statements:
Good: “We are at the threshold of a crisis situation which threatens to destabilize the status quo and usher in the dawn of a new era of change.”
Better: “We have a crisis at hand. This threatens to destabilize the status quo and usher in a new era.”
The first example is too long-winded and confusing. The second one, on the other hand, punctuates two independent clauses and lets your listeners pause and think about each statement.
4. Provide Verbal Guideposts
Use verbal guideposts to signal the importance of ideas or a shift to another idea. These can come in the form of repetitions or transition signals.
Repetition allows you to emphasize an important thought.
“Presentations conducted in person are still effective. Yes, they are still effective in terms of establishing personal connections with your clients.”
This example uses repetition to emphasize the problem and add more information to the primary idea.
On the other hand, transitions are words, phrases, or sentences that show relationships and suggest movement between ideas.
“I have discussed the nature of the problem. Let me now discuss the solutions.”
“I have come to the most important part of my presentation. Please listen well.”
In both cases, the second sentences of each statement signal the start of the speaker’s discussion. Similarly, use transitions to let the audience know you’re about to discuss something important.
Best engage your listeners through clear and concise language.
Keep these four tips in mind next time you take the stage. Good luck and happy presenting!
“3 Ways to Cut Back Your Text-Heavy PowerPoint Slides.” SlideGenius Inc. February 24, 2015. Accessed May 22, 2015.
“Cues.” Bethel.edu. Accessed May 22, 2015.
“Self-Evaluation Guide after a PowerPoint Presentation.” SlideGenius Inc. Accessed May 22, 2015.
Watson, Leon. “Humans Have Shorter Attention Span than Goldfish, Thanks to Smartphones.” The Telegraph. Accessed May 22, 2015.