At some point in all of our professional lives, we will be called upon to stand up in front of a group of people to deliver a presentation. We’ve all sat through enough uninspiring presentations to know what not to do, but how can we ensure that OUR presentations don’t fall into that category? With strategic preparation. The Chamber’s most recent Leading Edge Workshop: How to Present Like a Pro, gave members the tools for successfully planning and executing presentations that “wow” and leave a lasting impression.
Here are 6 tips for presenting like a pro:
Tip #1: Study
You might know your topic, but knowing how to deliver it in a digestible, engaging way requires preparation. Do your homework on your audience and craft your message around their needs. What are they there to learn or experience? How much do they know about the topic? You don’t want to bore them, nor speak over their heads. That’s where the glazing over happens.
Tip #2: Set a Goal
Determine the purpose of your presentation. Is it to persuade, motivate, educate or inform? Staying true to your goal for the presentation will help you weed out pieces that don’t fit and focus in on the lesson that your audience is there to learn.
Tip #3: Create a Flow for Your Presentation
Great ones share an engaging story to build a rapport with the audience, set expectations for the speech, dig into the handful of points outlined in the expectations, and then bring it all together with a wrap-up. Consider integrating audience participation or activities into the flow to reinforce the lesson and keep people engaged. Finally, end with a memorable clincher. What do you want them to go home and talk about over dinner that night? Make it remarkable!
Tip #4: Don’t Wing It
How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice! Rehearsing your presentation over and over helps you become more comfortable with the flow and ensures you can get back on track if you get momentarily distracted or interrupted with a question. It also helps you continue refining the message and perfecting your timing. Often the strategy you start with isn’t the final product you bring to the audience. Be sure you include your A/V and any handout materials in your run throughs and invite a practice audience and ask them to poke holes and ask questions.
Tip #5: Demonstrate Credibility
Non-verbal messages can be as important as the words you say and can pull your audience in or turn them off. Use good eye contact, speak with a strong voice, know what you’re doing with your hands, and stand up tall. Moving with a purpose instead of wandering or pacing strengthens your message. Stand still to make a point, then move and stand still again. Your practice audience can help point out usage of filler words such as “um”, “like”, and “you know”, and also tell you if you’re relying too much on visual aids and turning your back on the crowd to refer to them.
Tip #6: Breathe
Repeat rehearsals will go a long way towards alleviating public speaking anxiety, but you may still feel nervous. Be sure to arrive early to test all of your A/V and run through the highlights of the presentation. Take some quiet time before people arrive to review your notes and picture your successful presentation. At game time, put on your most engaging smile and greet people as they walk in the door. It will get that rapport started before you even start to present.
According to studies, roughly 75% of the population suffers anxiety at the thought of public speaking. Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking, comes in varying degrees from sweating and nervousness to outright panic-attacks, and keeps many from stepping up to present. The good news is that it’s entirely possible to overcome the fear of public speaking.
Getting more confident when presenting can be the door to career and business opportunities otherwise unavailable. Chamber Leading Edge workshops are designed to help you and your team learn new skills and best practices, and to maximize each person’s potential. We’re here to help you build the strong team that’s the solid foundation for your successful business.
Register for the next Leading Edge Workshop, "Building Teams and Talent", here.