Most of us hate any form of public speaking. We’d much rather sit in the background and not having any attention focused on us.
Unfortunately, at some stage in our working careers each one of us will be required to either sell an idea; make a recommendation; market our work or ourselves or market a product. In such an instance you would have no other choice but to bite the bullet and stand before an audience to present your case.
Do not stress it is not that difficult. It only requires a few skills which are easy to master. When you are required to do a presentation, do it well and use it as an opportunity to get noticed – it could well be the key to a successful career!
Start at the very beginning and plan well ahead for the big moment. The starting point is your expected audience. What will my audience know about the topic; what are their needs and what do they want to hear. Your approach would be different when you have to do a presentation on a new medical invention to a conference of medical practitioners compared to addressing a group of housewives on the same topic. Always try to put yourself in your audience’s shoes before starting to prepare your address.
With any presentation, there must be an envisaged outcome. Why are you doing the presentation? Is it to inform, persuade, motivate or teach? When you clarify your purpose, you will more easily hit your target.
Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start with the preparation:
Prepare the opening: Make a statement or ask a question that grabs the audience’s attention. State the purpose of your presentation and remember the opening should make up 5 to 10% of your entire presentation.
Prepare the structure: The presentation should have a logical flow:
- Background information
- Body of the presentation
- Action steps – what next or what is required
Choosing Key points: Your audience can only remember 4 to 6 key points, so choose them carefully. Back your message up with interesting evidence – statistics, testimonials, analogies and demonstrations. The key points should make up 80 to 85% of the entire presentation.
Prepare the Duration: Don’t make the presentation to long. Rehearse the duration of your presentation to make sure it falls within your time limits. Always allow time for questions – it is appropriate.
Prepare your closing: Prepare a close that supports your purpose and creates a lasting impression. Only briefly summarize or restate your key points and throw a challenge to your audience. Leave your audience with something to think about. The closing should make up 5 to 10 % of the entire presentation.
Prepare effective visual support:
- When using slides, it must be visually appealing
- Use colors and fonts that make an impact
- Select graphics carefully – they must support the subject matter
- Use effective but not irritating animation
- When using a whiteboard or flip-chart, write quickly and neatly.
Speaker notes: Never read your slides – this is very boring. Only have the bare outline on the slides and fill the rest of the detail verbally. You can make use of speaker notes on the slides to ensure that you know what you want to say and not forgetting anything.
Rehearse: First practice your presentation on your own in front of a mirror then follow it up in front of a friend or colleague. They must give you feedback on the content and style of your presentation.
Lastly, after everything is said and done, it is time to put your money where your mouth is:
- Be well prepared
- Know your subject
- Be exited
- Act confidently
- Dress smartly
- Speak clearly
- Make eye contact
- Focus on the main points
- Be yourself
Remember, when you are marketing your product, system, idea, or whatever, you are marketing yourself in the process!