If you’ve been tasked with giving a presentation, you want to impact and impress your listeners. Experienced presenters know that careful preparation is essential. Take the time to consider your strategy in advance and start strong. Your audience will sum up your style of presenting within the first few seconds, and if it is unexciting, you’ve lost their interest for the rest of your session.
You may even find that your presentation will be captured on video for future use in online events. That means that your lecture will be offered indefinitely, good or bad, so take these tips into consideration and make your presentation count for both your live and virtual audiences!
People Do Judge a Book by its Cover. Before the audience has the chance to assess you on the quality of content you will be sharing with them, they gauge your professionalism and significance by the way you carry yourself. Wear a jacket, or better yet, a suit. Dark colors, such as black or blue appear most professional and look good on camera as well. Consider a trim and neat haircut or hairstyle and limit amount of jewelry and accessories.
Learn the Subject, Not the Script. You need to know your subject matter inside and out. The audience is coming to learn from you, hear your ideas, and come away with a slice of your expertise on the topic. Anyone can simply do research on a subject matter, jot down a script and read from it. If your audience witnesses you taking this route, your credibility is weakened, and you’ve just joined the ranks of the “boring presenters”. If your presentation will be available online, you want to make sure your content and delivery is stimulating to avoid being “closed out” prematurely due to lack of interest. Thoroughly knowing the content will also ensure your ability to answer any range of questions asked if you incorporate a Q&A session at the end.
One Theme – Four Main Points. Your overall presentation should revolve around a main theme. And with that theme, try to bullet out up to four points during your speech. Though you have been called upon to provide a presentation and share your knowledge, that doesn’t mean you need to cram everything you know into your slotted delivery time. Your audience should be able to walk away from your informational session having learned the topic and be able to recount at least two of the main points that were discussed.
Say It, Don’t Display It. Simple and visually stimulating slides are key to an effective PowerPoint presentation. Limit the amount of text on each slide. Narration should come from the presenter and need not be transcribed on the PowerPoint slides. Slides are great for graphs, charts, statistics, and main bullet points – keep their use limited to that. Stay away from “eye charts”-slides crammed with so much content that only those with 20-10 vision can read them. They are deadly with a live audience, and even worse online.
Arrive Early. Nothing shakes nerves like running late to your presentation – trying to beat the clock and set up before your audience starts walking through the door. Allow ample time to arrive, ensure all equipment is working correctly, check the accuracy of your slides, and adjust lights and temperature in the room to comfortable settings. Particularly if your presentation will be video captured, you may face additional technical issues that will take time to resolve. It is also a great idea to find and meet the A/V or technical contact in case you have a glitch and need a quick equipment fix.
Deliver, Don’t Distract. Delivery is an art that is honed with experience and practice; however, even seasoned presenters can keep certain tips in mind during their delivery to ensure they make an impact – in a good way. Avoid distracting movements during your presentation such as touching your face, swaying back and forth, jerky hand motions, and fidgeting with clothes. Hesitations in voice, filler words such as “um” and “uh”, and awkward pauses as you try to find your place are all recipes for a distracted physical and virtual audience. Practice your speech repeatedly. The more comfortable you feel with the subject, your presentation, and its delivery – the more confident you will come across, reducing all the awkward aspects that come with unpreparedness.
Yes, Feedback is Necessary. Though it might be intimidating to open the door to critiques, it shows true professionalism when you ask your colleagues for feedback. It displays your desire to address any weaknesses and your will to work on improving them. Pass out brief questionnaires at the end of your presentation to get your audience’s fresh reaction to your presentation. Provide the same opportunity for your virtual audience via online polls or surveys. Don’t take the negative comments to heart, incorporate them to make corrections in your next speech. Soak in the numerous positive remarks received and applaud yourself on a successful presentation.
Summary. Relax. You’ve been asked to give a presentation because you are viewed as a person who is knowledgeable, competent, and respected. Imagine yourself in the audience and base the structure of your presentation on what you would find interesting – as far as engaging material and stimulating delivery methods. Keep ideas concise, know your subject matter, and above all else, practice your speech to exhaustion. Your thorough preparation will benefit your physical audience as well as ensure a top-notch delivery each and every time your session is selected and downloaded by virtual viewers.