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How the World Cup Can Help Improve Your Presentation Skills

July 8, 2014 / Blog, Lessons, Presentation Science, Tips & Tricks improvement, presentation skills, soccer and presentation, world cup

The 2014 FIFA World Cup is now down to the semifinals. Four teams will be fighting for two final spots in perhaps the biggest sports event this summer. As you make your bets and sort out your predictions, we’ve also made our own little list. It may seem odd, but there’s definitely an intersection between soccer and presentation.

We’ve compiled a few valuable lessons to help improve your presentation skills — all picked up from the heart-stopping games in Brazil.

Practice pays off

Improving your presentation skills can make you a champ
Image by Christopher Johnson

Athletes dedicate a lot of time to training and practice. They also make sure to warm-up before the start of every game. Likewise, your presentation skills will greatly improve with some extra effort. You don’t have to dedicate your entire life to improving your craft, but you do need to allocate a significant amount of time for preparation.

Presentation expert Garr Reynolds suggests asking yourself these questions before you even think of opening PowerPoint:

  • What is the purpose of your presentation?
  • Why were asked to speak?
  • What does your audience expect?
  • What are the most important parts of your topic that you want your audience to remember?

Answering these key questions will help navigate your content to a clear and sound structure.

Another important step in preparation is to practice the entirety of your presentation. After you’ve perfected your content and slide design, take the time to rehearse everything you plan to do and say. You don’t have to memorize your speech, but you do have to learn how your presentation may go when the big day comes.

Keep the audience on the edge of their seats

Before winning a spot in the semis, Holland had to face off with Costa Rica. Even after the regulated 90 minutes, plus 30 minutes of extra time, neither team allowed the other to score a goal. The deadlock caused a lot of excitement and anxiety in the crowd, who spent most of the game jumping and cheering in their seats.

While having people stand on their seats isn’t necessary and may even be inappropriate in your presentation, create the same atmosphere of engagement and interest. Knowing your audience and anticipating what they want is a valuable addition to your presentation skills.

Prepare your presentation with the audience in mind. Enhance great content and delivery with interesting PowerPoint designs.

Establish a goal

Goals are hard to come by in soccer games, but the satisfaction for both players and spectators are priceless. This was particularly the case during the Round of 16 matches between Belgium and the US. American goalkeeper Tim Howard saved a record number of goals, but his strong defense was breached by Belgium twice.

World Cup goals by Mashable
Infographic from Mashable

The goal of your presentation doesn’t have to be as hard fought as Belgium’s, but you do need to have it established as soon as you start. It’s important that you let your audience know the primary purpose of your presentation. Not only does it help you emphasize your message, it also makes it easier for them to act on your plan of action.

Win them over with passion

Create an atmosphere of excitement and engagement like the one in the World Cup 2014 stadium.
Image by Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons

There’s inspiration to be found everywhere, especially when it comes to improving your presentation skills. Who would’ve thought that you can pick up a thing or two from the World Cup? There’s always great fervor in the World Cup stadium, and the same thing should be said in your presentation.

There’s always great fervor in the World Cup stadium, and the same thing should be said in your presentation.

Win over your colleagues, clients, or investors with a powerful and compelling story. Show how passionate and driven you are about the topic or idea you’re presenting, and your audience is more likely to feel the same way.

Becoming a better presenter is hard work, but you’ll be reaping its benefits in the end — just like an athlete would, when all the years of training lead to an important victory.




Organization & Preparation Tips.” Garr Reynolds Official Site. Accessed July 8, 2014.


Featured Image: Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons