There are effective ways to make a presentation very successful. These tips are extracted from a tried and true resource on effective public speaking.
Successful people often need to give presentations and all successful speakers constantly work to improve their public speaking skills.Â But, public speaking can strike terror in otherwise confident people. Giving a presentation does not have to cause a cold sweat, if you prepare properly. In fact, you can deliver an effective presentation the very next time you need to speak with these proven public speaking principles.
Â ===Be Properly Prepared===Â
It sounds simple and obvious but failure to properly prepare is the number one killer of presentations. How often have you seen a presenter fumble with the PowerPoint or fumbling with notes? It detracts from the message and takes the presenter off balance mentally. Being prepared means creating good notes, practicing your delivery, bringing everything you need to the presentation, and getting set up properly before the audience arives so you can calmly mentally prepare to give the speech.
Ask yourself: Am I ready to do this presentation without being distracted by lack of preparation? If you can't answer YES, go and prepare until you are really prepared.
===Believe You are Sharing Important Information===
Â Mentally prepare to present by understanding and really believing that what you are presenting is really important to your audience. If you don't believe in what you are selling, neither will anyone else. Â Ask yourself: Do I really believe what I am saying? If you don't believe in it, find something to say you can really say with honest enthusiasm.
===Know Why You are Speaking===
Many presentations go off the rails when the presenter forgets why the presenter is there. This does not just apply to sales pitches. Every effective presenter must have a purpose for being there. Is it to sell a product or an idea? Maybe you need to deliver educational information. Are you looking for votes, a promotion, or something else?
Ask yourself: Is my message going to get me exactly what I need? If not, there is little point in proceeding. Go refine your message to get it focussed on the objective.
===Identify the Key Points and Message===
Have you ever seen a speaker wander all around the point, or worse, never actually state what the point is? Do not let people leave wondering why they spent time listening to you. Have easily identified key points and and make the message clear.
Ask yourself: What are my three or five key points exactly? Will my audience get my message clearly or will anyone wonder what I was trying to tell them? If the audience will not be able to write down three or more key points and one message you need to rework your presentation. Consider just saying some thing like "I want to share with you three points. Point A Point B and Point C. I trust you will understand my message that XYZ is a great idea/product/choice by the end of this presentation." It should be that simple, but too often presenters are not clear and the message gets lost in the fog.
===Present to the Right Level===
To know you are sharing information important to your audience you need to understand your audience. Talking to computer programmers about how to use Google Search will not hold your audiences attention, while giving a very technical presentation to average internet users is also not going to impress anyone either.
Failed presentations commonly contain content that just does not matter to the audience. You might be an expert on your topic, but the people in the seats don't really care about everything you know. They do not want to become an expert like you. Rather, they just want to know what they NEED to know on the topic to improve their lives.
If you have matched your general topic and the level of detail well to your audience, you can be confident you are sharing important useful information. Then you can relax while presenting since you know the audience wants to hear what you have to present.
Ask yourself: Will the audience get what they are looking for, and only what they are looking for, from my presentation? If the audience is going to wander off mentally because you are not speaking to their level you need to fix your presentation.
===Use an Introduction that Explains Your Purpose and Grabs Attention===
If you can't get the audience's attention and let them know what they will get from your presentation in the first 30 seconds to 1 minute you have likely lost them. This old rule is becoming even more important with audiences that are used to flipping the channel or hitting the back button.
Ask yourself: Why should the audience care? What can I give them to ensure they don't take a washroom break or start texting while I speak?
Reinforce Your Points
===Use Relevant Examples to Reinforce Your Points===
A scientific study is great to support your point and you should definitely use authoritative data, but a personal or real life antidote is more memorable.
Sometimes you can use a recent media story or a story from the life of a famous person as an effective illustration. Everyone remembers "I have a Dream..." because Martin Luther King shared his deeply held personal convictions. Had King said "A report by XYZ consulting last year says that people..." no one would have remembered his speech an hour later.
Ask yourself: How can I reinforce my message with relevant and memorable examples people can related too?
Note: Did you pick up how this technique is used right in this step?
Use Effective Clear Visuals
===Use Clear, Easy to Read Visuals===
Charts that can't be read from the back, slides overstuffed with details, and text that is too small will just frustrate your audience and detract from your credibility. Consider the size of the group. What looks great on your laptop may be impossible to read off an overhead projector.
===Deal With Mechanics First===
Arrive early and do a dry run in the room with the lights, sound and projector running. Are the chairs setup right? Is the person doing your introduction briefed on how to say your name and using an agreed script? Cover off all the details around your presentation. If these things go right no one will notice but if the mechanics fail they can throw you and the audience off badly.
Ask yourself: What can go wrong? Then plan to eliminate that possibility or have a good backup plan.
- ===Practice Makes Perfect===
Just like any skill, good presentation skills require practice. Doctors and lawyers are said to be in "practice" for a good reason. Professionals constantly practice to improve their skills.
Ask yourself: If I lost my notes, could I get through the presentation? If not, you might want to practice some more.
A boring presenter can make the most interesting topic into a sleeper. Ever seen people fall asleep in church or class? Don't subject your audience to tedium. Use a little humor, an interesting story, or some form of audience participation to engage the listeners in your presentation or risk losing them.
Ask yourself: What am I doing to engage my listeners? Plan to get and keep the audience's attention.
You researched your audience and you prepared carefully. You covered off all the possibilities you can think of. Yet, when you walk on stage to present something is just not right. Maybe the speaker before you went far too long. Maybe something is upsetting your sales prospects.
Practice thinking on your feet and be flexible. If this is a challenge to your perfectly arranged life, do some exercises in dealing with the unexpected with grace and style.
Ask yourself: Can I handle the unexpected? Can I cut 3/4 of my presentation and just get to the point? Again, practicing the skill of dealing with the unexpected will improve your abilities.
In many presentations you can expect questions during or after your presentation. You can not control the questions, but you can be ready with intelligent answers.
Ask yourself: What will people ask me? Ideally prepare visuals to help answer the main questions. In fact, to really engage the audience try stopping a little early and leaving room for questions with answers and slides ready to go for the most common questions. The audience will feel they are really getting their needs met and you can look very professional by being prepared with good answers.
Many unexperienced presenters dread public speaking and like dogs sense fear, the audience can sense your fear. If you can practice relaxing you will start to enjoy your speaking experience much more and so will your listeners.
Ask yourself: Would more speaking experience help me to relax? Consider joining Toastmasters or volunteer to teach a class, anything to get more comfortable speaking in front of others.
- ===In Conclusion===
Following these 14 steps will make a huge difference in the quality of your presentations. Just remember to be really prepared, relax, be flexible, and have fun. Good luck on your presentation.
Note that due to space limitations, this article can only give an overview on how to give a presentation. You can follow each of the steps listed below for quick help with a presentation right now, but for more indepth information I suggest you get the book "How to Prepare, Stage & Deliver Winning Presentations
Â by Thomas Leech (links to Amazon).
I've studied a lot of books on professional presenting, and I can definitely say Leech's book is the clearest guide that I have found. Others must agree because the book has been in print for almost 30 years and there are at least 3 editions so it has stood the test of time.Â
Warren Buffett an accomplished public speaker