Start your presentation with the end in mind. The only reason to speak is to move people. So start preparing by thinking about this question. What do you want people to think, feel or do after you speak? Keep that purpose top of mind as you prepare and deliver your presentation.
Don’t wing your presentation or hope to think on your feet. That’s a formula for disaster. Instead consider the mind set of your audience. Design your presentation. Rehearse it. Arrive early to check out the room. Be prepared to cut it short or deal with interruptions. Rehearse dealing with difficult questions.
Open & Close
There are three parts of your presentation – the opening, the body and the close. They are not equal in time but each is important. Many speakers make the mistake of only focusing on the body. The opening of your presentation needs to grab the attention of your audience, establish rapport and set the direction. The close is the last thing you say and hence might be the strongest thing they remember. Ensure that it reinforces your message and what you want them to do next.
Nervous and novice speakers are afraid of silence. Yet, silence is your friend. You don’t persuade anyone by speaking constantly, rapidly and louder. You persuade them by saying something poignant then pausing while they absorb and consider your words. The more often and longer that you pause the more confident you will appear and the more comfortable they will feel with your ideas.
The most important point is that your presentation should not feel like a pitch or a lecture. If you come across that way people will tune you out and resent you. So, how do you make your presentation feel more like a conversation? Do the things that you enjoy in a friendly conversation. That will include some of the techniques above – telling stories, pausing and making friendly eye contact. Here’s one more technique to have the conversation – ask questions of the group and listen without judging. Also punctuate your presentation with rhetorical questions to repeatedly engage their minds.
We are creatures of habit. You can be more successful when presenting by following these habits of highly effective speakers.
© George Torok is The Speech Coach for Executives and the author of the Superior Presentations program. He coaches executives and trains business professionals to deliver million dollar presentations. Discover free tips and presentation resources at www.SpeechCoachforExecutives.com Arrange for personal speech coaching or a training program by calling 905-335-1997 Find more presentation ideas at the blog www.Speechcoach.ca
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