I will be conducting presentations at upcoming conferences and am preparing myself by reviewing the presentations. As I review, I remind myself about what makes good presentation skills. These are skills that cause the audience to actively listen and possibly act as a result of the presentation.
Among the many skills that service and management professionals must have are effective presentation skills. I’m not talking just about how to use PowerPoint. I’m talking about the ability to effectively transfer information to another individual or a group of individuals so that understanding is assured. Without this effective communication, a misunderstanding will be the certain outcome.
The first thing to realize is that perception is reality. I’m sure you have heard this many times. It means that our reality is based on our perception not on actual reality. Now, as I always do, I am going to change that.
Since what you see depends on where you choose to sit, then if I can provide the chair that I want you to sit in, I can change your perception and, thus, your reality. This of course requires that I do more than make the chair available. I must also guide you to sit in it. How do I do that? Glad you asked. You do that by providing an effective presentation. So it follows that presentation determines reality, therefore presentation is everything.
To begin the presentation, you must be confident that you understand what you want to communicate. You must also prepare mentally and physically for the particular encounter. This means you must know your audience. You must know the vocabulary to use, the motivation needed by the audience, what expectations they will bring and anything else you can find out about them.
Set the environment. You must minimize external and internal noise. External noise comprises things like the room temperature, the comfort of the seating arrangements, the lighting and, of course, actual noise. Internal noise refers to the fact that people can think much faster than you can speak. So at any time during your presentation, you can lose people to their own thoughts. You must remain observant of their body language to ensure to bring them back on point.
Part of the introduction should outline who you are and why you are the right individual to be making this particular presentation. If it is a formal presentation then you will need contact information and anything else that will make it easy for them to follow up.
The presentation itself should begin, if at all possible, with a tie in to some previous event or knowledge so that there is a smooth flow to the start. You want to take them from the known to the unknown. The reason for the presentation should be made obvious so there is no misunderstanding as to why you are there. Whether you call them objectives or not, there should be measurable reasons for the presentation. You should also provide a motivational statement so people know for sure why they should listen.
Then you start the presentation. First, tell them what you are going to tell them. This is an overview of the topics of discussion. This lets people know what to look for during the presentation. Then, you tell them. This is the body and meat of the presentation. Then, you tell them what you told them. This is a short, well-designed review. So tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell them what you told them.
The number one rule for effective presentations is: Do Not Make the Audience Work Hard.
Keep any slides to one point per slide. Keep slides simple. Do not read to the audience. Do not use whole sentences on slides. Slides serve as a cue to you as the presenter to ensure you cover the topic. They also serve to cue to the audience regarding the slide topic. Complex slides break Rule # 1.
Engage the audience with your statements. Speak with the audience not at them. Restate questions so all hear them. Thank the audience for questions and comments. I suggest that you try to incorporate some of these points into your presentations and see how they work for you. You might find that your presentations go a little more smoothly and effectively.
So in closing, please make believe that I told you what I was going to tell you, that I told you and that I told you what I told you. Remember rule number one.
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