The New Year is here, and you’ve probably already resolved to exercise more and cut down on the binge-watching TV as well as made plans to be a more accomplished professional. If so, communication skills need to be part of that 2019 plan. They are a must-have for workers at all levels in any industry to persuade and inspire others. Happily, these are easy skills to learn, even though nobody is a born public speaker.
Consider these five ways to be more effective in your personal presentation and public speaking resolutions for 2019.
1. In 2019, I will be a more selfless presenter
Many presenters focus on what matters to them, not the audience, because it requires more thought and effort to consider the audience and their needs. Don’t make that mistake. Be a selfless presenter. It may take more time and effort to think about what matters to the audience and create presentations that speak to them and their needs, but you’ll see the payoff when your messages resonate with the audience. Understand your audience, and put extra time and effort into creating the best content for them.
2. In 2019, I will be more visual
An evocative image or photo is much more powerful than words, as we remember images much better than text or data. Your goal is to make each of your presentation slides be like a billboard–visual, not too wordy, and something that can be understood in under 10 seconds. Cut down on the amount of text on each slide, and say it with an evocative photo or intriguing chart instead.
3. In 2019, I will choose my words carefully
It’s not just a matter of using fewer words in your PowerPoint slides or in your speeches, what you say also matters. You may have heard the widely shared myth that only 7% of communication comes from words, but that is simply not true. The words you use are powerfully important, so choose words that will pack a punch. Especially if you need a boost to your creativity, as limits force you to think carefully about each word and the message that it will send. Use verbs, stick with active rather than passive voice, and use positive language. Edit down, and make sure each slide has one clear message that the words you choose will support.
4. In 2019, I will tell more stories
Storytelling is an incredibly powerful way to make your presentations more effective, and you’re already good at it. All humans are natural storytellers. We’ve been sitting around campfires telling stories for 50,000 years. Our brains are wired to respond positively to stories; they make us empathize with the speaker, build trust, and we remember stories even better than visuals. Marketers know this, Hollywood knows this, and the best speakers know this. Telling stories will make you a more confident speaker. In 2019, tell more stories about your business, your customers, your colleagues, or yourself.
5. In 2019, I will practice, practice, and then practice some more
The first time you practice your presentation should not be the day the audience sees it. You should have practiced and rehearsed it many times before going live for the first time. You will make mistakes, so why not make those mistakes before the big show, in a safe environment? If you feel nervous about your talk, good preparation is one of the many things you can do to boost your confidence. It’s a win for you and the audience.
Now, stand up, take a deep breath, and recite these five resolutions aloud. Then, stick to them throughout 2019. They will make you a more skilled and confident presenter and public speaker. And when you see your audience smiling and engaging more, you’ll feel more confident and that will make you an even better speaker.