If you expect to make it in the business world, you are going to need to learn how to be an effective communicator. Whether you are speaking to your co-workers or your clients, your ability to express yourself clearly is an essential skill. However, should you decide to progress your career and want to climb the corporate ladder into upper management, then you will need to master the art of public speaking and giving live presentations.
There are many types of presenters in this world. Some are mesmerizing, interesting and compelling, and possess the unique ability to grab and hold the attention of their audience. Some are not. Still, whatever the presenter’s abilities, there are certain steps they can take to ensure their public appearance is a success.
Preparing the Presentation
To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail. All great presentations require advance preparation. Things to consider at this stage are:
- What is the objective of the presentation? What is the point?
- What are the main 3-5 things the audience should remember at the end of the presentation?
- Who is the audience and to what extent are they familiar with the topic?
- What techniques can be used to hold their attention?
- What questions may the audience have?
- How much time should the entire presentation (including questions) take?
- What type of presentation slides should I be using?
Rehearsing for the Presentation
Both new and experienced presenters will benefit from rehearsing for their presentation. Ideally, this should be done in the actual room where the presentation will take place. According to KeynoteSpeakers.info, video or audio rehearsals are very useful as the presenter can listen to themselves afterward to see how they are doing.
Rehearsing in front of someone they trust and asking for immediate feedback is also a very good option. When the presenter is able to deliver their speech as if they are on autopilot, their presentation will sound natural and they will be able to read the audience and adjust their pace as needed.
What to keep in mind while rehearsing:
- Voice and tone – Too loud? Too quiet? Is the tone the same throughout the presentation or does it vary with the point the presenter is trying to make?
- Too much detail or not enough?
- Body language and use of hands
- Use of facial expressions
- Use and frequency of pauses (which are especially beneficial to drive a point)
- Are the same words repeated too often?
- Too many “uhs”, “ahs” and “you knows”?
- Too many acronyms and too much technical jargon?
Should you need help while rehearsing, it might be a good idea to hire a coach who can guide you along this process as they have years of experience helping people achieve their professional goals.
Dealing with Logistical Details
Most presenters nowadays use PowerPoint slides, which are easy to use and provide a nice way to maintain the desired sequence. Some good rules when using slides include:
- Ten lines only on each slide. Generally speaking fewer is better, unless the topic prohibits this.
- Large font is strongly preferred, so that everyone can read the slides easily.
- Not everything needs to be included on the slides. It is better to have the main points on, as bullet points, and then verbally add more details as the slides come up.
- Slides should be kept up for approximately 30-40 seconds.
- Reading everything exactly as it is on the slide is boring. The audience can already do this on their own. What they need is someone to add interesting trivia around the slides.
- Handouts should be ready and distributed at the beginning of the presentation.
As the presenter prepares and rehearses for their upcoming presentation, they will become more and more comfortable with their material and audience. They will be ready for the next step, which is being in front of an audience.