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Presentation Skills – it’s all Greek to me

Aristotle - presentation skills - it's all Greek to meIt’s often been said that apart from bereavement, public speaking is the most stressful experience we can have. If you’re fretting about making a presentation then here’s some great advice from ancient history. Greek philosopher Aristotle talked about three concepts: ethos, pathos and logos. Here’s our take on his top tips on how to improve your presentation skills. We believe that these will help you make maximum impact with your audience.

Ethos

This is all about having credibility with your audience. You may have über-confidence in your own abilities and believe what you have to say is game-changing for your audience. However they need to believe in you.

All too often speakers fail to get their audiences interested in why they should listen. Make sure your build in reasons why people need to listen. However, avoid going over the top with your credentials so they become a turn off rather than a turn on.

A critical question to ask yourself is ‘What’s in it for them?’. Do you want them to do something or just be informed? Start with your objective in mind and work backwards.

Pathos

This is all about emotion. Think back to the presentations that have persuaded you to listen, be influenced and take action. I am sure that the speaker’s passion inspired you in some way.

Make sure that the presentation is your own. Presenting someone else’s slide-deck is never recommended. If you don’t believe in your message then how can you expect others to? Faking it rarely works.

Your message needs to be compelling. That starts from within. Whether you’re extrovert or introvert it doesn’t matter. Sincerity is key. Be yourself. That’s what sways people.

Logos

Logic and information is vital. It’s often debated whether we use logic or emotions to make our decisions. What is clear is that you need data to present your argument in a logical way.

Remember to avoid information overload. Use the 80:20 rule to decide which 20% of your information will have 80% impact. Audiences who feel overloaded will soon be reaching for their mobile devices to check their emails or even order a taxi home.

Finally, remember that information can be beautiful. Use bar charts, pie charts, photographs and other images that will make your presentation memorable for all the right reasons. ‘A picture paints a thousand words’ really does ring true.

Of course schoolboy errors such as reading out your slides word for word do need to be avoided. However, using ethos, pathos and logos really does work. Engage your audience by engaging yourself.

Paul Beesley, Beyond Theory

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