So you’ve been asked to speak. Congratulations! You’ve researched the process in your Speech 101 book and think you’ve created a great program. Well before you’re “on” make certain you’ve put in the pizzazz! Here are a few ways to make your good presentation into a Powerful Presentation.
If you have been asked to speak for 45 minutes, plan a presentation no longer than 40 minutes. Someone will introduce you which takes time. The program may be running a little behind schedule. The audience may ask a few questions that take time to answer. You are considered a good presenter and planner if you deliver your message within the time limits. Besides, as a member of the audience wouldn’t you appreciate finishing a little early rather than a little late?
Your presentation may be listed in the program agenda. You’ve invested a lot of time designing it and you want people to attend. Your listing in the agenda is a marketing tool to attract an audience. Try to make the topic exciting. For example . . . “Time Management – How to Create a 25-Hour Day” or “The Office Survival Kit – Managing Your Responsibilities”. A fun, catchy title previews your dynamic presentation and entices people to attend.
The quickest way to bomb a presentation is delivering an “I” speech. You want to build a common bond between you and the audience, “I”, “me” and “my” don’t do this. Eliminate the “I”, “me” and “my” as much as possible. Instead use “you”, “we” and “our”. The audience will respect your inclusive attitude.
Your best friend as a presenter is videotape. Rehearsing in front of a mirror is good, but videotape is much better. You can critique a video later as a spectator better than the dual role of presenter/critiquer in front of a mirror. To better understand your presentation skills, watch the video at least three times. The first time watch your visual image with the sound turned off. Next, turn your back to the screen and listen to your audio message. Last, watch the collective product of your voice and body presenting.
Need we discuss this?
- Investigate the room before the audience arrives.
- Does the microphone work?
- Is the room temperature comfortable?
- Is the video ready to start?
- Do you have your notes with you?
It’s easier to make corrections before the program starts than make excuses for imperfections.
Stage or no stage, you don’t have to stay in one place. Move in a natural manner to put people at ease. Involve people as much as possible. If you know their names, use them. Use comfortable eye contact to invite them to listen.
Difficult Questions and Disagreements
If the audience poses a difficult question, stay calm. If you don’t know the answer, tell them you don’t, but offer to find the answer for them. Disagreements will happen. Again, stay calm. Simply state the information and evidence you have. Don’t start an argument or use emotional responses. It’s much more difficult for a member of the audience to argue or doubt the facts than your personal beliefs.
The moment the audience spots you they are judging you. Even before you speak you are telegraphing your enthusiasm for the topic and presentation. Be on your best, attentive behavior as an example for the audience.
You may show a video or slide show during the presentation. You may need to dim the lights, but always start and finish your presentation with the lights bright. The bright lights eliminate people from nodding off (particularly after lunch) and draw attention to your bright ideas.
Everyone has an attention span. People’s attention level usually drops after six to eight minutes. It’s your responsibility to stimulate as many senses as possible to keep people interested. Eye contact, visual aids, questions, activities, stories, etc. are all tools to keep attention. Yes, it’s your challenge if someone begins to lose interest after seven minutes. How do you eliminate anyone from nodding off? When you are building the presentation try to add personal polish — stories, analogies, activities, magic tricks — every six to eight minutes. The audience may not know why you are so interesting, but you will.
If the audience leaves with written information they can review it later or share it with others. This gives your message more impact. Handouts aren’t necessary, but they are a good supplement. Be careful not to disclose your entire presentation in the handout. You want the handout to enhance what you say, not distract from it. Including some resources in a handout is also a big benefit. Regardless of the format, be certain whatever you distribute is neat and professional. Handouts are a reflection of you.
You don’t need a million dollar wardrobe, but you must invest a few minutes in front of a mirror before presenting. Your message is much more powerful than only the spoken word. Before you speak, look at yourself. Make certain all of you is sending the right message.
Planning doesn’t have to be hard work. Instead, planning can be an energizing experience. Developing your presentation is a process. The more attention you invest in each step, the better your presentation. As you plan each step of the presentation, visualize its role and effect on the audience. Clearly imagine the many faces in the audience. See them nodding their heads and smiling in agreement. View the event from your eyes as if you were actually delivering the presentation. The excellence you create as you visualize will build your confidence and your expectations.
Patty Hendrickson, Certified Speaking Professional works with organizations that want to grow leaders and with people who want more out of life. For information about her interactive and enthusiastic programs and leadership resources visit www.PattyHendrickson.com.
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