Stage fright plagues some of the most talented speakers, performers, and entrepreneurs in the world. People like Thomas Jefferson, Mark Zuckerberg, and even Adele struggled with stage fright, and while many of them overcome it, their first public appearances were certainly challenging.
However, if you’re starting, how can you survive those first few presentations?
One of the best ways to make up for weak public speaking skills is to have a superior slide deck. Here’s how you can leverage design to overcome weak public speaking skills and deliver a presentation that impresses your audience.
Leverage Visual Appeal
Roughly 65 percent of the population are visual learners. This is good news if you have stage fright, as most of your message will be conveyed through visuals.
To make your presentation more visually appealing, use infographics, incorporate videos, and present information in short bullets (no more than three per slide).
Ideally, the audience should understand your message through the slide deck alone without any additional narration.
Creates a Positive First Impression
Research shows that people form their opinion about a person in less than half a minute. Additionally, 55 percent of first impressions (Institute) is purely visual. Your slide design can greatly impact how the audience will view you as an authority in the first minute.
Use a professional, clean design to win the initial first impression and keep your fonts and structure the same throughout the presentation.
Additionally, if you choose to use your brand colors, be consistent throughout your entire slide deck. Nearly half of all slide decks use branded colors less than 25 percent of the time (Outbrain), so be conscious of your color schemes and keep it unanimous.
One of the biggest problems presenters struggle with is staying on track and presenting complex information simply and quickly. This is where a well-designed slide deck can help you.
In fact, about 47 percent of presenters (Outbrain) say that they use slide decks to simplify complex information.
Rather than writing out full sentences on the slides, create three short bullet points and only elaborate as much as you need to make those bullet points make sense.
Time yourself on each slide and spend no more than a minute or two explaining each one.
Build Your Confidence
Finally, about 65 percent of speakers prepare their own slide decks (Outbrain). By preparing the slide deck yourself, you understand the story arc you’re presenting. Designing the slide deck also requires you to do extensive research as each slide deck takes about eight hours to put together.
One of the best ways to reduce anxiety is to do the research yourself and feel prepared.
Start Presenting Today
A fantastic slide deck doesn’t mean your presentation skills are irrelevant, though it will help you feel more confident as you begin presenting. Keep practicing, gathering feedback, and in the meantime, use these design tricks to make your presentation a success.
Ljana Vimont is the managing director of Stinson Design, a design agency specializing in customized, professional, and on-brand presentations for companies across all industries. Ljana’s leadership has taken Stinson from a hobby to a well-respected creative agency working with big global brands like NASA, Microsoft, Google, and Hilton.