How to give a successful presentation
Public speaking is fun, and it can be very rewarding with the proper preparation. The following presentation tips will ensure a successful presentation next time.
1. Prepare well. Even if you’ve given this presentation before, start from scratch. Establish a goal or objective for your presentation. What do you want your audience to know or do at the conclusion of your presentation? Use that to develop an outline. The outline will keep you focused on your objective.
Do your research. Could be online, off-line; maybe even include some interviews. The more effort you put in, the more effective your presentation will be.
2. Develop a checklist of your needs. You’ll include the usual items (laptop and projector, for example), but don’t forget a marker and/or pointer, your reading glasses, and other details. Don’t rely on memory. It’s too easy to forget those things.
3. Develop notes or a script, especially if you’re not using PowerPoint. (Although make sure you have prinouts or a script for a PowerPoint presentation as well.) Don’t try to wing it. Notes keep you on message and help keep you on time. An outline format works best. Try to include anecdotes or stories about your experiences with the topic. Those make your material seem even more relevant, because audience members can often relate to your experiences.
Anticipate questions from the audience. You can’t plan for all, but answers to a half dozen or so of the most likely questions should be committed to memory.
4. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. I can’t emphasize this enough. Try to get your material down cold. This will maximize your eye contact and help you deliver a more natural, conversational tone.
5. Arrive early. Gives you a chance to get accustomed to the room and test your equipment a final time. You can set up the presentation area to your liking, and acclimate yourself to any distractions, such as outside noise, poor lighting and odd acoustics. Mingle with the audience for a bit. That will help settle any jitters.
6. Don’t let a mistake bother you. Everyone slips up at least once. Plow on. If you forget something, try to come back to the point, or skip it. Your audience will never know what they didn’t hear. If it’s a more obvious glitch – say, you bump into something – mutter an “oops” and move on. Don’t dwell on it, as that will just draw attention to the error and make you feel more uncomfortable.
7. Leave behind some material, even if it’s just a recap of your presentation. Remember to include your contact information. Some people will have questions, while others may want to do business with you.
8. Speak frequently. To hone your presentation skills, get out and speak whenever possible. Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions clubs, among other groups, need speakers on a regular basis. They enjoy a variety of subject matter, so don’t feel you’re confined to business-related topics. I’ve spoken about amateur radio; what hobbies can you talk about for 20 minutes or so?
Seminars and other speeches help you refine your presentation skills and enhance your professional development. Take advantage of any opportunity to speak before an audience. You’ll enjoy the experience.
For related reading, see “Preparation minimizes miscues during presentations” and “Some tips to ensure a successful presentation.”
What are your experiences with presentations, good or bad? Any suggestions or anecdotes you’d like to share? Feel free to comment below. Also, if you found value in this column, could you do me a favor by sharing it with others? Thanks!
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