Summing Up: 10 Ways To A Winning Presentation

  1. Prepare. Know your message and your medium. Decide the specific response you want from your audience. Prepare thoroughly. Reduce your message to a single, clear paragraph. Know the "details" (the room, equipment, program, timing, etc.). Rehearse important presentations.
  2. Speak to the audience you have come to know. Learn all you can about your audience. Meet and greet them beforehand. Tailor your presentation to their needs and listening style. Connect with them (eye contact, friendliness, open posture, not hiding behind a lectern, etc.). Remember, your audience almost always is invested in you succeeding as their speaker. Speak to many individuals in the audience. Be attuned to audience reaction and adjust as needed.
  3. Know anxiety is a "tool" not a "threat." Nervousness (even fear) before an audience is natural. It can be disciplined (i.e. deep breaths, muscle relaxation, self-visualization techniques, etc.). However, you need not fear or eradicate it. Experienced speakers channel anxiety into energy that elevates their performance. Being well-prepared is a confidence booster. Your audience understands and shares your anxiety about public speaking. Visualize yourself succeeding. Relax.
  4. Gain immediate attention and control. When introduced, immediately command center stage. Don't "chatter". Craft and deliver an opening that grabs attention and interest. Be as dynamic as you can. Do this in the first 15- 60 seconds.
  5. Establish your credentials up front. Justify your "right" to be speaking (and listened to). Demonstrate your credentials, confidence, and/or audience connection—expertise, experience, integrity, insight, enthusiasm, commitment, or whatever justifies demanding the audience's time attention and belief.
  6. Recognize the impact of delivery and visual props. Your delivery and the use of visuals or other props affects the impact of your message. Effective delivery and visual techniques (i.e. pauses, inflection, gestures, facial expressions, props, overheads, written materials, etc.) pique interest, sustain attention, highlight key points, build confidence, and increase acceptance. Avoid visual and delivery aspects that distract audiences. Practice and watch other presenters.
  7. Whenever possible, tell a story. People are used to hearing about the world through storytelling (from the cave-dwellers to the movie-goers). The most interesting stories are about real people. Honor and tell your own stories. Common events illustrate important points. Even technical subjects can be illustrated and humanized by stories. Stories need a point. Keep them short.
  8. Be clear, concise, enthusiastic, and sincere. These are simple, meaningful qualities audiences appreciate. We can all deliver them. Focus on that one paragraph that clearly expresses your message. Make only a few key points. Be selective. Use non-technical language. Your enthusiasm tells the audience that this talk is worth listening to. Sincerity, when detected, is a powerful connection with an audience.
  9. Close with a purpose. Here is your last chance to drive home your point and leave the audience with a favorable lasting impression. Plan your closing and be brief and to the point. Take the time to think how to make it memorable. Always exit with style.
  10. Develop your confidence as a speaker. This is easier than it seems. Be yourself (but, be your whole best self). Select topics you like and about which you are credible. Look for opportunities to speak. Watch yourself on videotape (and have it objectively critiqued). Try some new techniques (use visual aids, speak without notes, tell stories, leave the lectern, etc.). Systematically learn from all your experiences. Welcome constructive criticism. And always listen and watch other speakers, especially the great ones, but also those who struggle. They all have a lot to teach.

Rev.9/08 rmc

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