Presenting can be one of the most nerve-wracking things many of us need to do in our work. Do I read from a script, or go off-the-cuff? What do I put in my slides? How can I make it entertaining? These are all questions we ask when trying to tackle the big presentation. We’ve put together some top tips to help you deliver a winning presentation…
- Possibly the most important thing – find your passion! It’s so important to uncover the aspects that you are most passionate about when putting together a presentation. Once you find that – you can research and learn intricately about what the subject is. Your passion will inspire the audience to listen – so, make sure you find the aspects you love most about what you are discussing.
- Understand the audience. Find out well in advance as much as you can about the audience, what age group they are in, are they close to the subject you are discussing, or just being introduced to it? What are their interests, and what do they hope to get out of your presentation? Use this to pitch the level of your presentation correctly. Even once your presentation is done and you are at the event, take some time to meet and greet the audience before you present. Not only will it make you seem more likeable and approachable, but it may give you some inspiration to weave into your talk.
- Start with an outline. It’s important that you establish the major points you want to focus on before you actually start putting it together. Try and establish THREE key points that you want to make. This will also help you keep your talk simple and focussed. You can then establish the headings for your different sections and fill in the details. Remember how important your introduction and closing are. The introduction should tell your audience what you are going to tell them, the body is you telling them, and the closing summarises what you told them.
- Once you have the outline, you can start your actual script. It’s up to you whether you intend memorising the entire script or using key points on cue-cards or slides. Speaking from memory gives you the most flexibility, but is the hardest to get right, and you run the risk of completely losing your train of thought, or leaving out key points. Speaking from notes allows you to sound quite natural and is probably a better option than reading from a complete text. If you’re using slides, remember that they are there to support what you are saying, you need to avoid having all your points on your slides and simply reading from the slides. Use as much imagery and diagram style material as possible to illustrate the points – rather than very text heavy slides.
- Test and Rehearse! Rehearsing is essential – the late, great Steve Jobs, one of the outstanding presenters of our generation, spent days on end rehearsing important presentations. Some people record or video themselves rehearsing to get a good idea of the body language and delivery style they are using. It’s also a good idea to use an audience of friends, family or colleagues to rehearse to and ask them for feedback on style and tone. Equipment is a big part of presentations and technology failure can really upset your ability to deliver a great presentation. So get to the venue as early as possible to test and try to have a back-up plan for your slides and AV equipment.
With enough preparation and rehearsal, delivering a presentation need not be a nerve-wracking experience. Remember that you can use your nervous energy as an advantage by channelling it into excitement and energy when you present. Keeping it simple is always a good idea when you rehearse try to establish what you can leave out, rather finish your presentation early and leave time for questions and discussion.
If you are passionate about your subject and well researched – you can’t go wrong! Good luck with your presentation ☺