A presentation provides a limited amount of time to present a message or topic to an audience, that audience could be an individual person or hundreds of people.
Whether it’s 60 seconds or 60 minutes, it’s a story that needs structure with a beginning, middle and an end.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be supported by fancy slides & videos, but it does need to be given lots of thought and practice to make that first impression a great one!
STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE – IF YOU DON’T TRY IT THEN YOU WILL NEVER KNOW – YOU’LL BE SURPRISED AT WHAT YOU CAN ACHIEVE WITH PREPARATION, EFFORT & PRACTICE!
What can you do to make it ‘WOW’! ?
- Show your Passion and Connect with your Audience
- It’s hard to be relaxed and be yourself when you’re nervous
- Great presenters say that the most important thing is to connect with your audience, and the best way to do that is to let your passion for the subject shine through
- Be honest with the audience about what is important to you and why it matters
- Be enthusiastic and honest, and the audience will respond
Focus on your Audience’s Needs
- Your presentation needs to be built around what your audience is going to get out of the presentation
- As you prepare the presentation, you always need to bear in mind what the audience needs to know, not what you can tell them
- While you’re giving the presentation, you also need to remain focused on your audience’s response, and react to that
- DON’T USE JARGON ASSOCIATED WITH YOUR BUSINESS AREA, YOUR AUDIENCE WILL NOT KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN & CERTAINLY WON’T BOTHER TO ASK!
- Make it easy for the audience to understand
Keep it Simple: Concentrate on your Core Message
- When planning your presentation, you should always keep in mind the key message that you want them to remember
- What is the key message?
- Have no more than 3 key points for the audience to take away & remember. Highlight the key points throughout the presentation, even engage them at the end and ask them to shout out the key message at the end as a playful reminder
- Some experts recommend a 30-second ‘elevator summary’, others that you can write it on the back of a business card, or say it in no more than 15 words
- And if what you are planning to say doesn’t contribute to that core message then don’t say it
Smile and Make Eye Contact with your Audience
- This sounds very easy, but a large number of presenters fail to do it
- If you smile and make eye contact it helps the audience to connect with you and your subject. It also helps you to feel less nervous, because you are talking to individuals, not to a great mass of unknown people. Move your eyes around the room as you are talking and try to catch the eye of every member of the audience at some point
- Don’t turn down all the lights so that only the slide screen is visible. Your audience needs to see you as well as your slides!
- The beginning of your presentation is crucial. You need to grab your audience’s attention and hold it
- Try a story, tell a joke or an attention-grabbing image on a slide. If your presentation is after lunch then you are disadvantaged, around 2pm is when we all get weary and our attention span is almost non-existent!
The 10-20-30 Rule for Slideshows
- Contain no more than 10 slides;
- Last no more than 20 minutes; and
- Use a font size of no less than 30 point
- This last is particularly important as it stops you trying to put too much information on any one slide
- As a general rule, slides should be the sideshow to you, the presenter, used as a guidance for you so you know where you are at. A good set of slides should be no use without the presenter, and they should definitely contain less information, expressed simply. If the slides contain lots of written content then the audience will be reading them rather than listening to you
- If you need to provide more information, create a bespoke handout and give it out after your presentation
Tell Stories / Give Examples
- Human beings are programmed to respond to stories
- Stories help us to pay attention, and also to remember things
- If you can use stories in your presentation, your audience is more likely to engage and to remember your points afterwards
- Think about what story you are trying to tell your audience, and create your presentation to tell it
Use your Voice Effectively
- The spoken word is actually a pretty inefficient means of communication, because it uses only one of your audience’s five senses. That’s why presenters like to use visual aids, too. But you can help to make the spoken word better by using your voice effectively
- Varying the speed at which you talk, and emphasising changes in pitch and tone all help to make your voice more interesting and hold your audience’s attention
- Try to avoid too many Errmmms & Errrrrrrs!
Use your Body Too
- It has been estimated that more than three quarters of communication is non-verbal.
That means that as well as your tone of voice, your body language is crucial to getting your message across. Make sure that you are giving the right messages
- Body language to avoid includes crossed arms, hands held behind your back or in your pockets, and pacing the stage
- Make your gestures open and confident, and move naturally around the stage, and among the audience too, if possible
- Make sure you are visible to everyone – if you are presenting to a large audience and you are all on the same level then you will not be seen, and if they can’t see you then you will lose their interest straight away. Elevate yourself on a small stage/pedestal if possible
Relax, Breathe and Enjoy
- If you find presenting difficult, it can be hard to be calm and relaxed about doing it. Even the most experienced presenters get nervous!
- One option is to start by concentrating on your breathing. Slow it down, and make sure that you’re breathing fully. Make sure that you continue to pause for breath occasionally during your presentation too
- If you do lose your train of thought, don’t panic, it happens to everyone! Take a deep breath and it will come back to you, or even make a joke of it and ask the audience for their help in reminding you where you were up to
Think of the worst question that the audience could ask you
- The chances are that no one will ever ask it but it gives you extra confidence knowing that you have it as a backup ready & waiting.
- If you are asked a question that you stumble over, don’t panic, just reply with something like: “That’s a very good question, I don’t want to give you the wrong answer to that so I’ll take it away with me and come back to you after this meeting if that’s OK’
By Alison Beardsley TEC I.T.
TEC I.T. is a team of highly skilled and experienced consultants specialising in Mobile Apps (on the iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows), Business Intelligence Solutions, Software Development and Website Design and Build.