Whether you are the team lead on a project standing up in front of a group for the first time, or the CEO giving a presentation at a conference with thousands of attendees, it helps to be prepared. Polishing your shoes as well as your words and delivery, all help in making a lasting impression on your audience.
Here are some tips to polish up your presentation. The first step is to create an outline. This will help organize your ideas as you brainstorm what you want to talk about. Consider what questions your audience is hoping to find answers from in what you are speaking about and research valuable information to provide to them. The most important aspect of any presentation is the content which is provided. Some ideas include:
- Using relevant stories is a great way to share information
- Add humor
- Plan for the audience to interact as part of the presentation
- Be sensitive to avoid using words or content which might offend your audience
- Use language which the audience understands
- Provide new information and “take-aways”
- Be simple and clear
Relax and have fun!
Having a visual aid such as a slide presentation to show on a larger screen will help listeners stay focused and serve as a guide for yourself as you speak. Design a slide presentation using your creativity. Add in interesting images, video clips, web links, and animation. Provide a printed copy of the outline for the audience to use during the presentation and to take with them. This added visual element will keep the audience engaged as you speak and help them pay attention to what you have to say. Practice your delivery.
As a presenter, you have the front of the audience as your stage. You might choose to stay in one place or you might choose to walk around the room. Realize that body language, using your hands to gesture, using tonal variation of your voice, using the proper volume, and being animated and alive will drive enthusiasm to those you are delivering your speech to. Ask the audience questions to engage them in your topic. Be open to questions and decide ahead of time if you wish to extend an invitation for questions to be asked during your talk or if they should held until the end. Be sure to practice your speech in advance. It will help you anticipate for what you might be leaving out. Your presentation will be more polished as you become more familiar with it with practice. If you can get access to the room you will be speaking in, see if you can practice there. Put together a checklist of items you may need taken care of before your presentation such as a key to the room, having all of the equipment set up and materials printed, knowledge of how to work a slide projector, a glass of water, and a planned schedule to arrive early. Not having to worry about these on the day of your presentation will help you be more relaxed and ready to speak!
If you find you would like to become a better speaker and refine your communication and presentation skills for 2020, there are local chapters of Toastmasters which can help with talking in front of others. You also can video tape yourself and take notes on what you need to work on. Look your best, come prepared, and don’t worry if you make a mistake! Your audience will appreciate that you’ve given them useful information. Having a polished and prepared presentation will show that you are professional and trusted source for information.
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