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10 Guidelines to Effective Public Presentation
In my 13-year career as an entrepreneur and trainer, I have attended or presented papers at seminars and I am used to this topic. I have witnessed how even with the most detailed and exciting content people often find their presentation falling apart for one reason or another. As a leader or a person whose influence I know is growing, you need to start getting used to standing in front of the audience to sell or sell your idea, teach or even give a speech when getting you an award one day. I have already received feedback on how the experiences I share in my articles have helped shape the destinies of many around the world. I am confident in the fact that soon you will have to tell your story to others. Much has been written on the subject and I have selected some of the major areas. These are the original thoughts and instructions that helped me.
1. Plan your presentation – Planning is as important as the actual presentation. Do you use slides on a projector. What order should they take? What detail do you emphasize and which one do you focus on? The idea is to deliver the message you want the audience to take home. Planning will ensure that you don’t spend too much time on trivia but that you keep the main thing that is the main thing.
2. Trust is an essential element – It’s a privilege to have an audience that takes the time to listen to you, don’t let them down by showing an element of uncertainty in what you’re saying. Become a reliable presenter who can sell ice to the eskimos until the eskimos run out of it. You planned and prepared, now confidently and courageously give the audience your best. I know you might be thinking “easier said than done”. Soon you will have to overcome the butterflies and sweat that come with the thought of an audience listening to you. If you are confident, the audience will stay tuned for more valuable information. Most presentations generally appeal to the auditory-learner (aural) because there are elements of listening to the presenter speaking most of the times so the speaker’s confidence and hearing carry the day.
3. Eye contact gets people engaged – Presenters whose focus is on the laptop, their notes or even the screen itself tend to lose the audience completely. You can’t be afraid of what people think while you’re presenting. As long as you speak with real and genuine meaning, with relevant confidence, you have them glued for the duration of your presentation. Avoiding eye contact tells the audience “It’s OK to do whatever you want while you’re presenting”. I was taught a trick while attending Teacher’s College many years ago. If the idea of looking into people’s eyes scares you, look a little above people’s heads or look at their ears. This is better. Distribute your contact across the room evenly and avoid giving the audience your back while you speak unless you are writing on a chart where you do not speak while you are writing.
4. Regulate your movements and movements – Don’t run around the stage to the point that your audience is constantly bending their heads to catch up with you. Put such movements in the gymnasium. You want people to engage, stay in a certain position moving occasionally towards the audience but not in an urgent way. Do not rehearse and overuse the movements. Be natural. Use your hands, facial expressions to emphasize a point. Smile a lot. Nothing beats a smiling presenter. Don’t look bored in your own presentation with the statement “I can’t wait to get out of here” written all over your face. Look interested in imparting knowledge and understanding. Depending on the nature of your presentation, an audience member with a Physical (kinesthetic) learning style will appreciate body movements and emphasis through the use of hand signals.
5. More visuals bring your presentation to life – Most viewers prefer not to hear you blurt. Not all learners can understand only by listening (Aural – auditory musical learners). By bringing in visuals you can also appeal to the visual (spatial) learner. Bring video clips, photo slides; use different visual aids eg flip charts or white boards, show samples or demo copies. I’ve learned that audiences prefer to be shown just being told. It brings credibility and since a picture is worth a thousand words, it is one of the best ways to say a lot in a short amount of time.
6. You have limited time – maximize its use – You have no business spending time on trivia. Long introductions will only eat up your time. The audience may already know your CV however you need to avoid boring them with “ringing your own bells”. Go straight to the meeting agenda and coffee breaks at the end or during your seminar can be to find out what else you have done. Show that you are concerned about making sure the audience’s time is not wasted. There is a tendency to think more about something you know best forgetting what the overall goal is. In your planning you should have checked what you want them to take home. Focus on delivering that.
7. Visit the site beforehand with a checklist – Visit the room beforehand with your checklist of the following major issues. Have a projector, connect it to your presentation sources and run. Check the sound level for your video clips and the microphone you’ll be using to avoid yelling or scratching people’s ears while you “whisper” your presentation, check all visuals and samples, handouts, lights. Check the roaming microphone for Questions and Answers, Check the availability of water and other facilities so that when your audience arrives you don’t ask about the venue but it looks like you own the place. If your presentation is dependent on power, check for alternative power sources such as generators etc. This element spoils the whole presentation. Have a plan B with you. Important – where you arrive with your staff on a flash drive or CD, make sure that the files are saved in several formats to avoid surprises where your material cannot be opened completely.
8. Get an understanding or overview of your audience beforehand – This will help you know how to proceed with your presentation. There is nothing like preaching to the converted. If you know you are meeting with a group of MBA students, be relevant with your examples. Make your presentation deep enough for their level. If your audience is mixed it should be relevant to the least educated and not boring to the most educated. You may not always know people’s CVs. Self-Introductions may be required in small groups of 10 to 15. Use that information to provide relevant examples specific to the work settings discussed.
9. Give your audience a chance to interact – Depending on the setting, create opportunities for the audience to interact, to ask questions and let some of the audience give their contribution while you facilitate and moderate. It may be interesting for you to note that there are some participants who are smarter and more experienced and knowledgeable on the subject. Responding to them provides value to them and to other participants. It will never be taken away from you. As a moderator, you simply take the best of all contributions and summarize, you remain the “expert”. Obviously some settings require you to stand, present and sit – no questions and answers. Exercise situational sensitivity. Audiences with a social (interpersonal) learning style enjoy learning in group interactions and from other people’s experiences.
10. Be yourself, be original – Have fun. Avoid trying to talk like everyone else. You will burden yourself and distort your presentation by remembering how “your model” speaks. Use original examples especially from your recent experience. The occasional relevant joke helps people relax and raises the level of expectation and anticipation. When the audience looks excited it in turn boosts your confidence and helps you settle in. Have a strong introduction that sets the mood for the rest of the presentation. When you present, avoid rushing to get things done quickly. Slow down and pause as you examine your audience. Throw in a relevant question once. A logical question appeals to an audience with a logical (mathematical) learning style. You can also use the question to test the level of understanding of what you will present.
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