You present to clients, supervisors and colleagues on a daily basis without even realizing it. Since you’re comfortable with what you’re going to say and to whom you’re saying it, you communicate clearly and confidently. In other words, you’re in control, which is the key to successful presentations, regardless of the size of your audience. Being in control of a presentation is easy, if these basic guidelines are followed.
Define Your Audience
Defining your audience goes a long way towards increasing your comfort level and assuring a productive presentation, since you can tailor the message to resonate with your public’s interests and expectations. Obtain information such as group size, the names and titles of those who will be attending, gender breakdown, average age, their familiarity with your subject matter and their perceived attitude regarding your topic.
Identify Your Presentation’s Purpose
What is the objective of your presentation? Is it to introduce a new product or service? Are you educating your audience on a specific issue? Will you be reviewing year-to-date sales figures? The purpose will dictate the information you need to convey and help you create the visual aids, such as graphs, charts and photographs that will support your points. Surveys tell us that only as little as 10% of a verbal presentation will be remembered after 3 days, but that figure can increase to as much as 66% when visual aids are used.
Structure Your Presentation
Now it’s time to structure the content. Prepare a script that stays on point and presents the information in segments that are easy for listeners to assimilate. Begin by introducing yourself. If you’re using PowerPoint, for example, your first slide should include the presentation title and date as well as your name and title. Then command your audience’s attention immediately by asking a question, sharing a story, presenting some dramatic statistics, etc. The script should flow logically from the introduction, to sub topics (if applicable), to a strong conclusion that weaves the entire presentation together and moves your public towards an emotional response or causes them to take a specific action.
Knowing your material inside and out, including when to pause, establish extended eye contact, insert humor, etc. is a key confidence builder. It also positions you as the expert with your audience because it affirms that you are extremely comfortable with the subject matter. Practicing does not mean memorizing your presentation word for word. You want to sound natural and relaxed and you will, by remembering that “practice makes perfect!”
You’re almost ready, but there is one last thing to remember… believe in yourself and your message and your presentation will be excellent.