Just the thought of preparing and delivering a presentation evokes fear, anxiety, sweaty palms, palpitations and a general sense of misery. Our minds go blank and our ability to form a coherent sentence is diminished. Yet our effectiveness in the workplace, actually your success in all areas of your life, is dependent on your ability to confidently, clearly and succinctly communicate your message geared to your specific audience. With this in mind developing your expertise as a public speaker is crucial for your career and personal satisfaction.
Like all skills, preparing and delivering presentations can be learned and mastered. Using the Presentations that Work Model will ensure that you create a presentation that works and in the process transform your fear of public speaking into your confidence as a communicator.
Presentations that Work Model
Reframe your idea about public speaking and presentations: Changing your ideas and beliefs about giving presentations is the starting point for developing this expertise. When you believe you can’t, you won’t. When you believe you can, you will. Remember: The root of the word presentation is PRESENT. The definitions of present are: to give, a gift, now. When you make a presentation you are giving a gift now, in the present moment. Think about the gift you want to give rather than your fear of preparing and presenting your gift.
Analyze your audience: Before you put pen to paper, fingers to your keyboard, or go to your Powerpoint slides from previous presentations ask and answer the following list of questions about your audience. Remember: You may create the most compelling presentation and even deliver it with confidence and if it isn’t geared to your particular audience it will not achieve your desired results.
Who is going to be there?
Why are they there?
What do I want to tell them?
What do they want to hear?
How are they going to use this information?
What do I have in common with this audience?
What do I like most/least about this audience?
What is my biggest challenge in preparing and giving this presentation?
Set objective(s): Identify the precise points you want to address about the topic of your presentation.
Everything presented relates to the objective(s).
Pose questions: Identify specific questions your audience will have about the topic you are presenting. Remember: Before you prepare your presentation, ask members of your audience what they’d like to know regarding your topic. If you don’t have access to contacting audience members use information based on your Audience Analysis to generate your Posed Questions. Focus on:
Why is this topic important to your audience?
What does your audience need to know to be able to use this information?
How do I grab and maintain the audiences’ attention?
Generate information: This will form the content of your presentation. Remember: Do not generate and edit your information at the same time. Generating information is an expansive brain activity and editing is a contracting, focusing brain activity. When you attempt to do both of these actions at the same time it results in confusion. So gather your information first and then edit based on your objectives, posed questions and the time available for your presentation.
Gather information to address your objectives.
Answer posed questions.
Organize the information for a listener:
Opening statement: Captures your audiences’ attention and interest in the subject, and establishes commonality with your audience. An effective opening statement is a few sentences that may focus on one of the following:
Brief background information.
The importance of the subject.
Your role in the project.
An anecdote or current events story that relates to your presentation.
Tour: A general overview.
Delineates the major areas your presentation will address.
Guides the audience to where you will be taking them during the presentation.
A visual aid is useful to highlight your tour.
Body: The gift of your presentation. The body includes:
Important statistics and information.
Visual aids to clarify complex information.
Clear transitions from one visual aid to the next.
Clear transitions from one section of presentation to the next (posed questions are useful transition devices).
A logical flow of information.
Summary: Specific statements to reinforce the major points you want the audience to remember. The summary is:
Specific and reiterates information you covered in the presentation.
Three or four specific key points you want your audience to remember.
Reinforced by a visual aid.
Closing statement: The ribbon of your presentation, it completes the gift! The closing statement lets your audience know that you have come to the end of your presentation. A closing statement may:
Identify your next step(s).
Acknowledge people who have worked on the project.
Relate to your opening statement.
Lead to a question and answer session.
Prepare visual aids: Reinforce the important point you want to emphasize.
Determine appropriate visual aids for your presentation: PowerPoint, handouts, samples.
Select what is most important to remember.
Select what is most complex to understand.
Every visual aid has a title and a clear focal point.
Use color, charts, and images to highlight and delineate key information.
Use font size that can be read by everyone in the room.
Rehearse: To become familiar with the content and build your confidence in delivering the information.
Identify a specific objective for each rehearsal.
Rehearse in front of someone and ask for specific feedback including what works and what improvements can be made in relation to the content and your delivery.
Videotape, if possible and review with someone who gives clear and direct feedback.
Present: Give your gift. Remember: What you give to your audience is what you receive.
Be clear about the purpose of your presentation.
Channel your energy through your voice and deliberate gestures.
Be a leader
Connect with your audience through your eye contact and providing examples and application relevant to your audience.
Ask for specific feedback: Be aware that some opinions will vary from person to person.
Is it relevant to the audience?
Is it understandable?
Is there a logical flow of information?
Do the visual aid to support the information?
Are there to many or too few visual aids?
Are the visual aids titled, clear, readable and understandable?
Do your gestures support the words spoken?
Is your voice clear, articulate, and easy to hear?
Is there vocal variety?
Is there eye contact with the audience?
Are your visual aids used effectively?
Evaluate the feedback:
Be aware of the source.
Acknowledge your accomplishments.
Use the feedback when preparing your next presentation.
Following the Presentations that Work Model will build your confidence as a public speaker. Remember: Belief in yourself joined with preparation is the magic combination to creating and delivering presentations that work.