Improve your oral presentation skills with these tips
In previous columns, including this one, I have offered a number of tips for improving your presentation skills. Having attended another presentation, I find the need to offer some additional reminders here. After reviewing my columns, you’ll note a pattern to these presentation gaffes.
1. Not using the microphone. The room was not particularly large and the ceiling was not high. Even so, presenters should have used the microphone. A cordless model came with the lectern. The first presenter tested the mic and, upon finding that it wasn’t turned on, ignored it. So did the rest of the presenters.
Remember that it is your responsibility as presenter to test all equipment. Ask for assistance if something is not working properly (or not on). Always use a mic if one is available.
2. Speaking while facing away. Several times today the presenter turned and looked at the projection screen while speaking. You can get away with this if you’re using a microphone, but it’s an absolute no-no without a mic. Always face your audience while speaking.
For today’s presentation, the laptop was positioned about two feet to the right of the lectern. Presenters could easily glance at the monitor to review the slide. One presenter used this technique. Make a habit to position your monitor so you can view the slides without having to crane your neck backward. It’s like reading a cue card: nifty and professional.
3. Related to the above is reading from the slides. The audience can read, thank you. If you have text-heavy slides–something to be careful of–just provide a synopsis. Rehearsing your material will help with this.
4. Watch your verbal tics. The common ones today were “so” (at the start of sentences) and “actually”: “What we are actually proposing is….” Just say, “What we are proposing is…”
5. Provide good eye contact. One presenter offered outstanding eye contact. Another tended to favor the center and left side (from her perspective) of the room. Take in the entire audience as you speak.
An effective presentation is rooted in sound presentation skills. Study these suggestions and the others I offer to develop strong, executive-level presentation skills.
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