Public speaking is a core business skill that’s often not taught in any business course. Many people avoid public speaking and don’t understand the importance of using presentations to help build their business. Here are some tips to help you plan and deliver a presentation with impact.
1. CONSIDER YOUR AUDIENCE
Before starting work on your presentation, take some time to research your audience. Who will be attending your presentation? Why do they want to hear you speak? What information will they be interested in? How can you make a connection with them?
2. DRAFT AN OUTLINE
The structure of your presentation should be simple:
- Start with an introductory outline of what you plan to cover in the presentation.
- Next move on to the main of the presentation. Try to keep this simple and straight forward by keeping your to three key messages.
- Conclude your presentation by providing a summary of what you’ve said and take the opportunity to re-emphasise your key messages.
3. WRITE A SCRIPT
Using your draft outline, write a script of your presentation. A script will help you to flesh out the and to rehearse the presentation. However, don’t use your script in the final delivery of the presentation, write some cue cards instead. A great way to begin your presentation is to use a question or anecdote to capture the attention of the audience. Most importantly, make sure you’re confident with the of your presentation.
It’s a good idea to practise your presentation in front of a mirror, to videotape yourself or to ask a friend or colleague to watch your rehearsal. This will help you to identify any weaknesses or opportunities to improve your presentation. Also, keep an eye on the timing of your presentation as many speaking opportunities will be subject to strict time limits.
5. GESTURES, BODY LANGUAGE AND IMAGE
The most important visual in the presentation is you. Make sure that you’re appropriately dressed for the presentation and don’t wear any accessories that will distract the audience. Gestures and body language are also important, so use open hand gestures and eye contact to help develop a relationship with the audience.
6. VISUALS AND MATERIALS
If you’re using a PowerPoint presentation, use slides sparingly, don’t let the technology take-over and don’t read straight from the slides. PowerPoint slides should support your presentation, not dominate. Also, ensure the venue has the technical equipment you need and prepare a back-up in case there are any technology problems. Consider any other visuals or props you might need during the presentation such as video, butcher’s paper, product samples or brochures.
7. PREPARE FOR QUESTIONS
Let the audience know at the outset whether you will take questions during or at the end of the presentation. Taking questions during the presentation is a good way to generate interaction between the audience and the speaker. Think about the types of issues that may be raised and prepare responses. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so, but undertake to find out the answer and to respond in an appropriate timeframe.
8. CALM YOUR NERVES
Arrive early on the day, check the equipment works and set up any props. Try not to be nervous. Breathe deeply just before you go on to help calm any nerves. Remember you are the subject matter expert. The audience is on your side and they want you to succeed, so visualise yourself as successful! For opportunities to help enhance your presentation skills visit www.toastmasters.org.au
Renee Hancock is a marketing and communications specialist, whose experience spans finance, government, education, not-for-profit, telecommunications and law. She has consulted for two of Australia’s most prestigious public relations agencies and now works in-house for a leading financial services organisation.