Powerful Presentations – A Checklist:
Presentations, and especially those which are important or presented to a room of people are often very intimidating. Whether it’s an informal talk or a formal pitch with overhead slides, any presenter cannot help but be aware that a lot is usually riding on what he or she says and how the message is put across. It is therefore extremely important to make sure that we have followed as much tried and true advice as you can as a presenter and to this end the following is a simple checklist to make all of your future presentations both more powerful and compelling.
Each of the following points on the checklist are worthy of discussion and debate with colleagues so the best of them can be woven into your upcoming performances:
- Be Congruent – Body Language, Words and Tone all sending the same message. This also means being yourself and not someone you are not (a show person, overly serious, joke telling etc.)
- Always take account of the audience need for Visuals, Auditory and Kinesthetic experiences.
- Care more about your audience than you care about yourself (or what they think of you). Ask what do they want to hear and how (and always start out by acknowledging them for being there or giving up their time).
- Constantly gauge the Audience Response to what you are saying or doing (and if it is not working, change it).
- Remember First Impressions count. Presentation attendees will make assumptions about your age, gender, education level, profession, income, attractiveness, marital status and even the car you drive in the first minute. What can you do to create the impression you want as a result?
- Earn The Right – to be at the front of the room. Give them a reason to listen to you. This often means giving your knowledge, experience and credentials to talk about the subject in question.
- Create strategies for handling your fear. Use fear as a tool to concentrate or focus. (Courage is feeling the fear and doing it anyway). Public speaking is rarely life threatening!
- Use Visual Aids and Props. These help an audience to get a point, feel entertained and even just to break up a long flow of slides. And if you are using a lot of slides, always use few words and plenty of white space.
- Project to the back of the room. Make gentle eye contact with as many audience members as possible for just a few seconds.
- Make your presentation memorable – think about the one thing you want your audience to take away and be able to remember in a few days or weeks’ time.
- The most destructive thing in presenting is self-criticism. Let it go and focus only your strengths and on the positives.
- The true success of your communication is with your audience (in other words don’t congratulate yourself on your eloquence unless your audience tells you that you are!).
- The person who asks the questions is in control (so be ready).
- Listen carefully to questions before jumping in to answer.
- Do not let the “what ifs” negatively influence the thrust of your presentation or its length-fewer words and slides are always better.
- You should handle presentation FEAR as a positive and inevitable beginning but something that makes your performance “edgier”.
- Play to win over your audience rather than playing it safe (and boring your audience).
- The more you care what people think of you, the less they’ll think of you – say and do things in your own normal way.
- Where appropriate, start with a positive, layer in the negatives and end with positives. End the presentation on a good note.
- Above all prepare, prepare, prepare. It is said that Winston Churchill spent 3 – 4 hours preparing and rehearsing for a 5 minute impromptu speech!
- Learn from each experience and make small adjustments (don’t change lots of things at once).