Being invited to present is a privilege; but failing to deliver can be career suicide. Delivering your presentation, whether on stage, in a boardroom or over the internet, is an opportunity to show off all the hard work you’ve put into it. This is when you pull everything together for your audience.

The more authentic and personal you are in the delivery of your presentation, the more your audience will connect with you and your message. If you’re a seasoned presenter, then nerves might not be your issue. But being overconfident and over-speaking could well be your downfall.

Here are 4 tips to help you deliver a winning presentation every time.

  1. Set context

    Be clear when you start to state how long you will be talking. Try 15 minutes, and state you will have a break for questions. Ensure to wrap up questions and close with a clear ‘call to action’, not a fizzled-out Q&A with people leaving the room uninspired.

    Be aware of the slight delay in transmission on a conference call or webinar. Be honest about that up front so everyone is aware of it. It’s a good idea to have a second person moderate and respond to questions so they can do that in real time while you speak.

  2. Get comfortable

    Find a comfortable position to speak from. If you are comfortable moving around the room do so, but this might not be possible in a boardroom environment. Best case is to not stand behind a lectern, but don’t be so scripted in your moves that you get confused. When you rehearse, practise in as many different environments as possible.

    When you smile, you look like you’re enjoying yourself. People smile back and then they enjoy themselves. When you are warm, open and authentic on the stage you will mirror that response from your audience. Plus, the great news is, they won’t be able to tell if the reason you are smiling is because you are covering up nerves or a technical fault, or just having fun on stage.

  3. Mix it up

    Try to mix up the pace of your delivery. You can control your audience’s attention by talking faster, louder, and then clearly, slowly, articulating a key point.

    Silence is power when it comes to presenting. Learn to embrace the pause at the end of a big idea, between points or when explaining important details. Avoid filling the silence with waffle.

  4. Keep going

    Sometimes fold-back screens (second monitors) don’t work or just repeat what the audience sees. Autocues fail (bad idea anyway), or if you are presenting online you cannot see your notes. So you need to be prepared and have a backup.

    If something does go wrong, the audience probably won’t notice but if they do, be honest and don’t just blame the tech team. Think of Mariah Carey’s bungled performance on New Year’s Eve 2016. Blaming the tech team just makes you look unprofessional and is very distracting for your audience.

Above all else, remember you are sharing a story with your audience so be yourself and let your personality shine.