Some good ideas to help you with your next presentation
Preparation and Practice
It is EVERYTHING! Generally speaking, for a speech you have not performed in the past, your research, preparation and practice should take up eighty times the time of the presentation itself (an 80:1 ratio). So, a ten minute speech will require 800 minutes (really!) of practice. I know it seems like a lot, but you will be surprised what a difference this will make to your professionality – and your career!
This VASTLY improves your credibility. This is particularly true, in fact it is essential, when talking about yourself.
Your audience WANTS you to succeed. Really!
Part of your preparation is researching the AUDIENCE. Who are they, what do they want to hear, what level should I pitch things, what will they be wearing, etc
Part of your preparation should be anticipating the QUESTIONS you will be asked. Decide if you will allow questions, when you will allow them and what your answers might be. What will you do about the question you can’t answer? (Hint: Honesty is everything)
Part of your preparation is TIMING. The more you practice the more accurate you will be with the time your speech will take. For this class, for example, a ten minute speech should run for TEN minutes – exactly (you should prepare for real life presentations with the same strict adherence to timeframes).
Friends in the audience (FITA)
When giving a presentation there are three steps to follow for FITA and it is all about making a more convincing presentation
- Pick three people in the audience. One on the far left, one in the centre and one of the far right. As you present, keep looking at these three people and making eye contact. This way you ensure you are continuously scanning the audience and not presenting to just one half of the room.
- If you are giving a presentation with lots of information and there is going to be a time for questions, before the presentation pick one or two people to ask you a question. Prepare them by asking “Excuse me, if no one asks a question during questions time can you please ask me about….” This will make it look like there were actually people engaged during your presentation and you are not left standing up there looking silly whilst waiting for questions. Plus once people in the audience see a few people ask questions, it will motivate them to also ask a question.
- This is similar to preparing a audience member with a question. If your presentation has a lot of information and you want to engage your audience to keep their attention, it is good to ask the audience a question or two during your speech. To ensure that you don’t get thrown a curve ball and an answer that doesn’t fall in line with the overall flow of your presentation, prepare one or two people in the audience with an answer that you want them to say. Then when it comes time to asking a question, just pick them to answer with the answer you already gave them.
Presentation AIDS are just that – AIDS. Don’t fall for the mistake of using them as a crutch. For example, NEVER read the powerpoint slides you have prepared – especially if you turn your back on the audience to do so.
Speaking of powerpoint slides – aim for FOUR words per slide. Really! They are just pointers to things you are going to say, not a repeat of what you are saying.
In most business situations they should be given out at the end. If you give them out earlier than that your audience will read them. You certainly don’t want that – you want them to be concentrating on you!
Attire is really important. Dress in a way in which you feel comfortable and that is appropriate for the audience. That said, it is always better to be more formal rather than less. The golden question is: ‘Do I want them to concentrate on how I look or on what I say?
The way you speak is obviously very important. Taller, well dressed men who speak in a lower timbre are more believable than others, for example. Aim to speak fairly slowly and evenly and don’t get too excited (your voice rises in pitch when you get excited). Don’t end statements with a rising tone – it will sound like you are asking a question and it is a manifestation of nervousness.
Handover is crucial. If you are one member of a group of speakers, make sure the handover between one speaker and the next is fluid and automatic. Avoid saying things like: “Now I’ll hand you over to Joe Blow who will talk about…”
Researching the venue where you will be presenting should be part of your preparation. Consider size of audience that can be accommodated, acoustics, parking, lighting, etc.
Ten minutes early is already late! Don’t leave it too late to arrive. You will be all flustered and unprepared. Also, leave nothing to chance. Don’t assume the powerpoint will work, the internet will be available, the audience will be ready…. Check everything, absolutely everything – early enough so that you have time to fix things if need be.
If presenting as part of a group, in what ORDER should you speak? If you are one of say five speakers to talk, try to be second or third. First is too much in the spotlight and by the fourth presentation the audience is fidgeting.
How much movement (KINESICS) is enough? Well, let your personality shine through. It doesn’t matter as much as you think. On the other hand, don’t pace up and down, but don’t stand still like a statue either!
Don’t use a MICROPHONE if you can possibly avoid it. Microphones cause problems in recording, in remitting sounds like ‘p’s and ‘s’s and they are often unreliable.
If you must use a microphone, stand directly behind it and keep your mouth four finger widths from the windsock at all times.
- Is EVERY interaction in business a presentation? Well, actually, yes! An interview, an address to your team, accepting a promotion, talking to a client, meeting a group at a Club after work, a progress report….
- Is there ever a time in business when I can drop my GUARD and say and act as I wish? Well, actually, no!
- What about specific situations? An APOLOGY?
It will be ALL RIGHT ON THE NIGHT! Well, it will be, if you have practiced and prepared enough!