5 pointers to deliver an engaging work presentation

by By Michelle Chin (mchin@sph.com.sg)
published on 20 June 2016

Tasked to give a presentation at work and want how to do a good job?

The aim of work presentations can vary – to sell ideas, report progress, provide training, gain consensus for decision making, motivate staff, and more.

Apart from being clear on your objectives, a well-crafted speech can be the backbone of a great presentation. Skilful delivery is paramount to engage the audience, convince and send your message across.

Here are some tips to bear in mind the next time you present a proposal or make a speech.

1. Know your audience

Find out who will be listening to your speech. Include relevant content that will appeal to them. Weave in anecdotes or examples that your audience can identify with and understand.

In this way, you can capture their attention for a longer time and establish a stronger connection with them.

If you need to sell certain ideas or persuade your audience to see value in your suggestions, include relevant data, research studies and list down the practical benefits that can be achieved.

2. Be concise

Be clear and focused on your objectives. Make a conscious effort to be succinct.

If it is a technical or content-heavy topic, avoid overwhelming the audience with unnecessary jargon. Without eliminating essential content, use analogies and simple explanations to put across complicated concepts.

3. Practise and rehearse 

There is no substitute for ample practice and rehearsals.

Mr Cheng Kok Beng, 48, a group IT manager and a member of the NTU Alumni Toastmasters Club, recommended rehearsing and fine-tuning speeches before delivering them to your colleagues, bosses or clients. Last year, he won in the humorous speech category in a speech contest organised by Toastmasters International.

Mr Cheng said: “Practice is key. Even experienced speakers can feel nervous and encounter problems on stage. You need to know your topic by heart and be prepared to cope. If you make a mistake, do not let that prevent you from continuing with the rest of your speech.

“Stay confident and be alert. Do not simply read off your script. You need to engage the audience and make them feel you are really talking to them.”

Mr Cheng also recommended visiting the venue beforehand to familiarise yourself with the audio and visual aid equipment. Even better, rehearse your speech there to get a feel of the ambience and learn how to project your voice.

4. Body language

When making long speeches, ensure that the audience remains focused and attentive. 

Go for smooth transitions and draw obvious links between points. Allow the audience to follow your train of thought with ease.

Refrain from using too much animation and transition effects in your slides. These can be distractions that disrupt people’s focus.

Speak at a steady pace. Neither rush through your speech nor go at too slow a pace. Project your voice and speak at a volume that will command attention and signal your confidence.

Mr Cheng noted that a speaker’s body language should be natural and complement what he or she is saying. Your stance, movements, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact add persuasiveness to your speech.

“If you show signs of nervousness like crossing your arms, fidgeting or pacing, your audience will sense your unease and be less receptive to your ideas,” he said.

5. Do your research

Having a firm grasp of the subject will give you confidence during the presentation and credibility during the question and answer segment. 

To provide well thought out responses, be an expert on the subject and possess knowledge beyond what is expected of you. 

For instance, while it would be the bare minimum to understand how your department functions, it pays to find out the nature of the work of other units and departments.

This helps you to understand the challenges faced by each team, as well as the part each team plays in contributing towards delivering the final products.