If you’ve got a big presentation coming up, you might be feeling the nerves, or you just might want some advice to ensure it runs as smoothly as it should; take note of the tips that follow:
The Cover of The Book
If you are delivering the presentation in a foreign environment (i.e. not on home turf) then try get there early to set up in peace. You don’t want to have to be unpacking graphs and boards or setting up laptops while your audience sits and scrutinizes you. Make sure the room is clean. Make sure you are well-groomed; your shirt hasn’t become untucked in your rush, you didn’t get toothpaste on your favourite tie.
Keep Their Focus
Ask for all cellphones to be switched off, and close the door to avoid any unnecessary interruptions. Be firm about the ground rules right from the start.
I once had to give a series of lectures to some government departments and they initially believed that were above any common etiquette.
The first lecture was a nightmare as they answered cellphone calls, came in and out the room as they pleased while the lecture was in progress, and chatted and joked amongst themselves. After that I laid down the law in terms of what was expected from them during the presentations, and the rest of the lectures went swimmingly.
Also a good idea is to provide refreshments before you get started so that no-one goes looking for a cup of coffee just as you’re about to deliver your knock-out line.
Who Am I?
When giving a presentation ask someone to introduce you correctly. Write out a small, accurate introduction of yourself and your credentials for them to use. If there is no-one else, then do it yourself, but make sure it’s done. If people know you are qualified to be giving this presentation then they will be much more receptive to what you have to say.
I went to a Real Estate/Property investment course where a property mogul had a colleague introduce him. It was effective as he gave a good overview of the speaker’s achievements and an insight into what he had accomplished. It was a good idea as by the time the main guy started talking everyone already had a healthy level of respect for him. And he had achieved this without having to ‘boast’ about his portfolio.
Use small, palm-sized key cards with key words summarizing some of your points, so as not to get sidetracked off the topic. However don’t write full sentences on there as your audience will soon lose interest if you read a story to them.
Keep eye contact with them; don’t neglect the ones sitting to one side. Also, don’t talk while your back is to the audience.
I made this mistake once when I was giving quite a big presentation. Halfway through my talk I realized I had been making eye contact with only one side of the auditorium. Fortunately I noticed it before my speech ended, and adjusted the way I was standing (I was using a projector) so that I could ‘include’ the other side of my audience too. The grateful smiles I got from some of them confirmed that they appreciated me correcting my mistake.
Don’t Shake Like a Leaf
I once watched a presentation be delivered by young woman, who was using a sheath of A4 papers for her speech notes. She must have been quite nervous, because that piece of paper was shaking and rustling like bag of dry leaves. If the erratic movement of the paper wasn’t visibly distracting enough, the noise it made ensured no one could concentrate on what she was saying.
If there is no podium on which to place your notes, try make them small palm-sized squares so they don’t distract the audience. If you really need big sheets of paper, then put them on a solid clipboard or use an Ipad tablet or Windows 8 slate.
Use Visual Aids
Use a flip chart or a data projector to explain points more clearly. Your listeners will be more engaged with graphics and/or videos and their attention span will last longer, contributing to a more positive end result. Practice your whole speech with the visual aids out loud on your own before delivering it to your audience for the first time.
So basically, to sum up:
- Prepare well
- Deliver confidently
- Enjoy it.