Basic Presentation Tips
1. First rule – A great presentation does not just happen. It is planned and rehearsed. Putting in thought and time to get this right helps in delivering a great presentation, with confidence and authority.
2. Decide what you want to say – your presentation is the vehicle for delivering your message and to create results or action in others. Identify the 3 most important messages to convey and package your thoughts around making sure that you get these across effectively. Sometimes it helps to design your presentation backwards – start with where you want to end up and work back to the way that you open.
3. Repetition - If you want people to remember something – repeat it at least three times during your presentation. The first time they might hear it. The second time they might think about it. The third time it might stick. A good trick is to open with a statement that you want to end with – then spend the middle part of your presentation explaining /fleshing it out – then conclude by repeating the it again at the end.
4. Keep the delivery informal – prepare your presentation the way you talk, don’t prepare a speech. Most people write more formally than they talk. If you prepare by writing your talk out, your tendency will be to deliver the talk with more formal-sounding words. Don’t read from notes - this can be really boring to listen to. If you need to, prepare prompt cards with key words. Stick to talking about what you know.
5. Keep your language simple and direct – try and avoid dense and academic words when these are not necessary, find clear and simple way of communicating what you mean. It will be easier for your audience to digest and retain information.
6. Visual not verbal – People retain images better than words – keep your overheads visual, not verbal. If you have to use words, make them bullet points.
7. Don’t design your presentation around your images – try not to just introduce one piece of work after another – decide what you want to convey, then choose the best images to illustrate that. Talk about the bigger picture of your work, as well as the individual pieces.
8. Edit yourself – Rehearse, and edit out unnecessary detail. This might be hard to do, but you lose audience attention really quickly with lengthy and unnecessary detail – just make the point.
9. Build in your passion – it’s your work, let everyone know how passionate you are about it. Passion is captivating, contagious and convincing. At the same time, remember, no one will be as interested as you are in the minute detail – provide enough information to convey the message you want to convey – give them what they need to know to do what you want them to do. Don’t overload with too much information.
Avoiding some easy Pitfalls
1. Know your first four sentences – Your listeners make up their minds about you almost immediately. You cannot afford to appear uncertain or disinterested in the first minute. Your words must come out strongly and clearly and your first ideas must be concise. You have only one chance to create a first impression. Know how you are going to begin so that start strong.
2. Check The Mechanics – If at all possible, either the night before, early that morning, or sometime before you give your presentation, check your slides one last time. It will help you to focus and give you peace of mind. There is absolutely nothing worse than having technical difficulties in the middle of a presentation. You don't need anything going wrong in the middle of your presentation. Check the mechanics.
3. Meet And Greet Your Audience –Your natural inclination might be to avoid your listeners, since on some level you consider them to be the source of your fear. But the real source of your nervousness is internal. So go out and meet them and talk with them. Your nervousness will actually be reduced and it will be easier for you to talk in a normal, conversational tone. If at all possible, make it a point to meet and greet your audience.
4. Look People in the Eye – when talking, don’t look at the ceiling / the back wall / your shoes / or your notes – look people in the eye.
5. Try to release your tension - A good way to reduce pre-performance tension quickly is with a very brief and easy to say comment. This could be something simple, like inviting people to take their seats. If you are not in a position to make a statement, then ask a question of someone who is speaking.
6. Avoid Jokes –If you are nervous and worried about the audience reaction to you, then the natural inclination might be to try to warm the audience up. A good joke can seem like an excellent way of doing this, but the potential for this to go disastrously wrong is massive. But the risks are just too high. First, it is hard to be funny. Second, if the joke offends anyone, then you have lost the audience before you begin. Finally, if the joke is not funny, then you have a very weak beginning. Remember, the audience did not come to hear a comedian. Begin your material and until you are really relaxed, avoid joking.
7. No apologies –Never begin with an apology unless, of course, you are late. Then, apologize. But don't tell the audience that you are nervous, or that you are new on the job, or that you don't feel well. When you begin in that way, you are really saying that you are not going to do a very good job, and that does not make the audience feel very good. At any cost, avoid apologies.
8. No Flowery Intros – Avoid those long, flowing introductions. Tell your listeners exactly why they are here and exactly what you are going to talk about within the first minutes of your talk, and avoid flowery introductions.
9. Drink Water – it lubricates your vocal chords, and speaking in public is known to dehydrate you. Lukewarm water is best – iced water is not good.