When you have been asked to deliver a presentation, the initial thought and feeling can be a daunting one. Let’s face it, unless you present regularly and are considered successful in this skill, many people will not know where to start.
Many of my clients request support and guidance in this area. This first question l ask my clients is: “What message do you want your audience to walk away with?” We have all sat through presentations where the speaker is reading through copious notes, or word for word from their PowerPoint, watching the time go slowly, looking forward to the final words. We ask ourselves whether they have even noticed the audience or “reading” their responses.
After all, while standing on the podium or stage, it is easy to be so engrossed in the words you have to remember, the pauses, and your breathing. When working one-to-one with my clients, I always have a video camera at hand, so I can let them see what the audience sees and hear what the audience hears.
Self-awareness is a great place to start. So how do you coach someone to overcome their nerves and deliver a memorable presentation? Here are some of my tips:
1. The topic
If you already have a topic, make sure you know what you want to say. If not, then you need to have something worth talking about. Ask yourself whether you would be interested in attending the presentation.
You need to consider the audience, which may not always be possible. Knowing the audience, can help you to assess how to “pitch” the topic so they can relate to it.
2. The material
Make the material yours. Delivering a presentation prepared by someone else can be dangerous as we all have different thought processes. Start with the topic in the middle of a page and brainstorm the ideas that come to you.
Then select three main ideas and develop those. Each idea must have a clear message and be in logical order so they flow and the audience can understand where you are going.
3. Your notes
Keeping your notes with you can be a safety net, however they can also be a distraction. I have seen presenters start reading from their notes, only to lose their place on the page and take long, uncomfortable pauses in between while they find their place. Keep your notes brief and easy to read; they should serve as a reminder of what you are planning to say.
4. Start with an impact
You want to get the audience’s attention and make them listen to you. The first impression you make will be a lasting one, and the audience can be extremely critical. I like to recommend starting a presentation using one of the three following techniques:
- A fact or a statistic that relates to the topic of the presentation
- Tell a story that is thought-provoking
- Ask a question that gets the audience thinking, and then gradually move onto the presentation
Once you have done one of the above, then introduce yourself because you will have the audience listening. Now, remember, when you walk on the stage, do not start talking immediately. Take a few seconds to look at the audience and gather your thoughts. Getting your ideas together by following these guidelines can get your presentation off to a good start- all the best!