Presentations are for the dissemination of information, to teach, or to sell something. With that in mind, it's very important that your presentations are effective. A powerful presentation can be about any subject, no matter how mundane. It's not the subject that makes a presentation powerful; it's how you present it.
Powerful presentations start and end with you, the presenter. Their success relies on your preparation, planning, and execution. It may seem daunting, but if you do your homework and follow-through, you are virtually guaranteed success. The following tips are going to concentrate on web and video conference presentations, but the core message of each can be used to punch up face-to-face presentations as well.
1. Beginning far before the presentation, you need to research your audience. Who are they? What are they interested in? How long is their attention span? What motivates them? If you know the answers to any of those questions, your presentation will not only be received better, but will also be much more effective. After that, planning what to say is paramount. What are the highlights? What are the talking points? How will the PowerPoint slides look? You should prepare your notes first, and then your slides. First draw your ideas for slides on paper and lay them out. Once satisfied, only then should you start creating them on your computer.
2. While you are planning the slides, keep in mind that you want your presentation to be powerful and effective. To accomplish this, get rid of any elements on each slide that detracts from your central message. Less equals more, especially when attempting to reach people. Running with that theme, avoid bullet points. Instead of more words, use pictures or graphics to illustrate your points. Pictures get their message across instantly and completely.
3. When you begin your meeting, don't just hang the “slide 1 title page" on the screen. Start things off right with live video of you! Web conferences are so much more than just sharing PowerPoint so utilize everything at your disposal. While you are beginning the presentation and doing the introduction, you have the opportunity to make a personal connection with your viewers. Only after everything is underway and it's time for the slides to be used should you switch from video to PowerPoint.
4. Unless they are riveted to the subject matter, participants will lose interest after thirty to forty-five minutes. If possible, break from your slide show to video and see if there are any questions. Looking at you for a few minutes and having the opportunity to ask a question or two will refocus your audience. . . at least for another thirty to forty-five minutes.
5. During that first portion of your presentation when your face is all they see, make sure that you look at your webcam lens. It may seem a little strange at first, especially if you are able to look at your screen and see the others, but making eye contact is important - even through a webcam.
6. If you need to check your notes while on camera, make sure you put them right below your webcam. That way, you will show less eye movement when you look down. Also, since you won't have your notes to the right or the left, you won't come across as a shifty eyed person as you quickly glance away and back. To further show confidence, set up your camera and notes so that you can be standing during the video portion of the presentation. The camera may only catch your head and shoulders, but you will feel and therefore appear more sure and in control.
7. When you script what you want to say, try to make it more like a guideline. Get familiar with your subject matter and ad-lib as much as possible. You don't want to sound like you are reading your message. Bullet points for your own personal use - instead of a script - is the best way to get a natural conversational flow.
8. For the “meat" of your presentation, there are a few things you can do to make your message more powerful. Start off with your strongest argument or talking point. The idea is that not only will you grab their attention, you will make for a good first impression. This will also help you to be concise in your presentation. They will appreciate you not taking any more time than necessary to get your points across.
9. When the slideshow is going, don't forget that you are still technically onstage. Stay positive and enthusiastic. Smile as well! Even if you are not on video, your participants can “hear" your smile. Don't go too fast or slow. Avoid “ums" and such gap fillers with all your might. Keep the pitch of your voice normal as well. If anything begins to slip out of line, don't hesitate to pause and drink some water. Regroup, then begin again with gusto.
10. At the end of your presentation but before the Q&A, go back to video for your conclusion. You want to make your closing statements powerful and meaningful. Now is the time to make sure your audience knows what you want and what you want them to do. Create a “soundbite" from your presentation to say at the end. This needs to be a short, powerful, memorable punch that will seal the connection between you and them.
Remember, an audience secretly wants to be guided, to be persuaded. . . don't disappoint them!
Get more information for a conference call or about video conferencing services from David Byrd at TalkPathConferencing.com.