Putting an Oomph Into Your Presentation

If you are one of those people who find making a presentation difficult, this article will help you put an oomph to your presentation.

Getting ready for your presentation

One of the keys is being prepared. Know your objective. If you are unsure, ask the person who requested the presentation. What do you hope to achieve with this presentation? Provide information, sell an idea. How much time do you have for your presentation? Other things to consider – resources and visual aids that are available to you. Do you need to book a room? What other arrangements do you need to make?

Get as much information about your audience. Their knowledge of the topic. What are their objectives? Which languages they are comfortable with? Consider the possibility of breaking the presentation into two sessions if there is a mixture in the knowledge levels. Prepare for any objections your audience may have.

Preparing your presentation

As a rule of thumb, preparation takes up to seven times longer than the delivery. Remember to include factors such as your workloads, interruption from colleagues into your preparation time. Try to make use of the visual aids available.

Brainstorm the topic. Gather all aspects of the subject matter, breaking up the topics into 3 areas:

Need to know
Nice to know
Out of topic
Compile the ‘need to know’ topics in a logical order and prepare a step by step flow to the topics. If you lack sufficient knowledge on the subject matter, carry out your research using resources such as the library, the internet. Don’t be proud, consult your colleagues or experts in your organization.

Structuring your presentation

The common structure of most presentations has:

Introduction
Body
Conclusion
Questions and Answers
The introduction should covers:

introducing yourself
the subject matter
topics you will be covering
why the audience are there
the benefits they will get
how long the presentation will last
when questions can be asked
This is an important time to show enthusiasm and energy for your subject matter. First impression counts in a presentation.

The content, as mentioned earlier, should be logical and laid out in a step by step manner. Break up your presentation into sub-sections. Summarize each sub-section before moving on to the next sub-section. Emphasize during these summaries, the main points to reinforce learning. If you allow the audience to ask questions at the end of each sub-section, mention this at the beginning of the introduction.

The conclusion is where you refer back to the aim of the presentation and review the objectives that have been achieved. Highlight the key points of the presentation and emphasize the benefits to the audience. Remember to KISS the conclusion (Keep It Short and Simple).

The questions and answers session is the most difficult to prepare for. During your brainstorming, consider the objections your audience mat have and address these in the body of your presentation. Ask your colleagues to come up with questions, the more difficult the better.

Rehearsal time

Run and re-run your presentation in your mind but bear in mind that you think much faster than you speak. Rehearse aloud. Speak it out. By doing this, it gives you the opportunity to find the words you want to use. Time your presentation. If possible, record your presentation. This gives you the opportunity for you to check your own presentation. Check your voice, tone, volume, pace, body language and gestures. Do rehearsals (or dry runs) with your colleagues. Get feedback and amend your presentation as necessary. If possible, a full dress rehearsal in the venue where your presentation will take place.

Your delivery should be free flowing and you should sound natural. This means having good rehearsal. Should you have presentation notes? Depends. Notes can be distracting. Try to keep eye contact with your audience. If you really need presentation notes, prepare index cards. Write in large print, use short bullet points. Number the cards, bound the cards loosely. Place the cards on your presentation table. Remember, minimize your reference to these cards. Alternatively, use your visual aids as a prompt. Expand the key points highlighted in the visual aids.

Use visual aids to enhance and make your presentation interesting. But remember, YOU are the main visual aid, the other visual aids should not distract attention from you. Visual aids can be projectors (lcd, slide, overhead), flipcharts, whiteboards, videos. How often do you use visual aids? As a rule of thumb, about every ten minutes. Try to vary the visual aids. Visual aids need to be clear and concise.

The choice of visual aids is dependent on:

size of audience
size of the room
the facilities available
As a guide, flipchart or whiteboard may be used for small audience. Projectors are suitable for complex materials and graphs. Provide handouts if visual aids are not available and work through the handouts.

To have handouts or not. Handouts can be valuable referral documents for your audience. If you intend for your audience to work through the handouts, distribute them before your presentation. If not, distribute them at the end of your presentation. The handouts should cover the topics in your presentation. Do let your audience know that there are handouts at the end of your presentation. To avoid having the handouts distract your audience, follow these rules:

handout the document
make sure everyone has a copy
highlight to your audience where you want them to focus
tell your audience to put the document away once you are finished with it.
Day of reckoning
On the day of your presentation, check and make sure all that you require is in the room. What to check for? Visual aids, equipment, handouts, notes, extension cords. Ensure all the equipment are functioning. Give yourself ample time to setup your computer, check the connectivity. Check that the video can be seen and the audio can be heard from every seat. Make sure your notes and overheads are in order.

If you feel your nerves raise before your presentation, do some stretching exercises. During your presentation, ensure that you minimize nervous reactions from the perspective of your audience. If your hands tend to shake, avoid using props. If your knees wobble, stand behind the podium or table. You could build movement into your presentation like walking to your visual aids, remember to come to a complete stop before addressing your audience.

What should I wear? The audience and the situation will dictate your dress code. It is important to respect your audience but at the same time, you must be comfortable in what you wear.

Delivering your presentation

Your presentation starts when your audience begins to come into the room. Mingle with your audience, meet and greet them as they arrive. Remember your eye contact and gestures, first impression counts.

Have your audience seated and settled. Remember to assert yourself as the presenter. Stand where all the audience can see you. Make eye contact with your audience, don’t forget those at the back of the room or at the corners of the room. It is quite normal for you to seek out a friendly face in the audience but it is important to have eye contact around the room. If someone asks a question, have eye contact with the person. But break the eye contact when you answer the question, respond to all in the room.

Remember your posture, stand comfortably. Be confident. Take a deep breath. Use a lower key if you feel nervous, your voice tends to pitch when nerves raise. Slow down your pace if you feel nervous. Have a cup of water nearby in case you have a fit of coughing or if your mouth feels dry. Use your body language as a natural means of communication. If you are illustrating a point, use your hands. From time to time, try moving from your current position. Avoid hand gestures using a pen, it can be irritating to some people.

What’s up next? Oops, I forgot what to say next. But who knows? Only you know what you intend to say. If you have your prompt cards, refer to them, return the cards to their place and continue your address to your audience. It will look like a natural pause to your audience.

Observe the body language of your audience. If you notice some yawns or wandering eyes, increase the energy level of your presentation. It is important that you maintain enthusiasm and energy in your body language and voice.

Remember Murphy’s Law – If anything will go wrong, it will go wrong. The most important to remember is DON’T PANIC. If a projector breaks down, check if there is a spare bulb or a spare projector. If you are using projectors, have a hard copy of your presentation available. You can move to a whiteboard or flipchart and continue your presentation.

Always repeat the key points of the presentation to reinforce learning. Try to vary the format when you emphasize the key points.

Keep to your time schedule. If you have a question and answer session at the end, let your audience know. Don’t get sidetrack by questions from the audience during your presentation.

Whether it is a room or a hall, it is important that all of your audience can hear what is being said. Get a colleague to stand at the back of the room and let you know if he or she can’t see or hear you clearly. You could invite your audience at the back to respond by raising their hand if they cannot hear.

Controlling a question and answer session

At the beginning of the question and answer session, let your audience know the duration of the session. Give your audience time to be involved in the session. After a pause, if no questions are forthcoming, start with a question you are frequently asked to get the ball rolling. This may give your audience impetus and time to generate related questions.

When asked a question, repeat it in your own words. This is to ensure that you understand the question and to let the audience hear the question asked. Break eye contact with person asking the question and respond to all your audience. If you are asked a hostile question, repeating it in your own words, will take the sting out. After you have answered the question, do not return eye contact to the questioner.

Occasionally an individual may demand your attention or incessantly raise questions, you can suggest the discussion to be continued at the end of the session. At all times, remain courteous and invite other questions from the floor.

During the session, it is easy to go off the point. To avoid this, consider the questions carefully. If you think the response would take you outside the scope of your presentation, let your audience know. Again, you could address the question at the end of the session or to send it to all the audience at a later stage.

If you do not know the the answer, let your audience know it. You could open the question to your audience for their answer. If you promise to your audience to send the correct answer, fulfill the promise or you risk damaging your credibility.

Closing your presentation

When the questions coming from the floor have stopped or you have run out of time and have answered the final question, this marks the end of the question and answer session. Always return to presenter mode and summarize the objectives and expectations for your audience and thank them for their time. Be the last to leave the room.

Evaluation

Always evaluate your presentation. This is the best time and opportunity for you to improve and develop your skills. You could have an audience assessment form to be filled at the end of your presentation or at a later stage (preferably within a week of the presentation). You could also do a self assessment (subjective) using a checklist. If the objective of the presentation is to lead to a change in behaviour, you could measure your presentation using direct or indirect observation of such behaviour.

The key is to accept criticism and to recognize our weaknesses. But the key areas of any feedback, whether positive or negative, is that the feedback need to be specific and if possible, giving examples of what they mean. Identify the weakness so that it can be eliminated. Remember it is your willingness to change.

Summing Up

Be well prepared and well rehearsed. Be open and honest. Remember your audience is human, what they want is to enjoy and benefit from your presentation. Keep them in mind as you prepare and deliver your presentation. Success to your next presentation!

David B.W. Lee is a Sage Accpac ERP consultant since 2000. He was formerly a senior consultant with Malaysia’s Top Premier Reseller, Careware Systems Sdn Bhd.

Over the past years, he has conducted seminars, workshops, training classes and software demonstrations. He have also written technical and non-technical articles, documentations and tutorials as a freelancer. Among

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Presentation Tips

Suppose you forget what you have to say? Suppose your prompter, if you have one, fails to inform you at the right moment? Suppose you fall sick on the D-Day? Suppose someone questions you and you can’t answer the question? Oh God! What a nightmare if you’ve been appointed to conduct the next office presentation. How can you get over those heebie-jeebies, those butterflies in your stomach right before a presentation? Do you require any presentation tips? Is there anyone to help you when you’re up there on the podium alone? Or is everyone in the audience simply glaring at you wondering when you’ll make your first faux pas, your first blunder?

The First of the Presentation Tips

Hey, don’t be so negative – that’s the first of the many presentation tips that are there to prop you up on stage just as you begin to crumble. ALWAYS THINK POSITIVELY.

The Second of the Presentation Tips

Never be nervous and never show your nervousness. Tall order? Not at all. If you’ve practiced your presentation in front of a mirror at home many times before the actual day of your presentation, you’ll not feel nervous at all. That’s the second of the presentation tips: rehearse your presentation several times before you actually deliver it.

The Third of the Presentation Tips

The third of the presentation tips asks you to tape record or video record your presentation. This will help you to detect flaws in your presentation so that you can correct them, well in advance.

The Fourth of the Presentation Tips

One of the most important presentation tips is that you don’t leave your presentation for the last moment. When you’re a seasoned presenter, you needn’t prepare at all for a presentation, you can deliver what you have to, impromptu, extempore. But when you’re a beginner, it’s essential that you work on your presentation several days in advance. This gives you time to practice your presentation and to identify where you’re going wrong. Once you know where you’re going wrong, you’ll be able to rectify yourself so that you make no gaffes during the actual presentation.

It’s advisable that you learn what you have to say, by heart. It doesn’t look nice in public if you’re reading from papers. Now, you must know that even if you memorize your presentation, you might not be able to rattle it off, the way you’ve planned. This is because, while you’re presenting, members of the audience may stop you to ask questions or ask you to explain certain things better. Don’t consider these pauses as interruptions. These are part and parcel of your presentation. This fourth of the presentation tips says that if you find that you’re being allowed to present smoothly and without any breaks, it’s probably because you sound like a school kid who’s reciting a long poem by heart. This is not good for your presentation. It’s not right if your spectators know that you’re doing something by rote. Your presentation will fall flat as soon as they perceive this. You’ll have to know your presentation like the back of your palm but you’ll have to pretend that you’re delivering it on the spur of the moment so that it looks and sounds natural. Tough job, but it comes with practice. As you become an expert presenter, you’ll find that you’re really delivering presentations at short notices, almost on the spur of the moment. You’ll get the flair required for presenting and the hang of presentations as you become an experienced presenter. But to get to that stage, it’s important that you keep on at it. Don’t shy away from presentations. Then you’ll never get accustomed to presenting. Remember, Demosthenes and Mark Antony also slipped at first before they came to be hailed as the smartest orators on Earth.

The Fifth of the Presentation Tips

The fifth of the presentation tips advises you to prepare for questions, well ahead before you actually face them. Every presenter has to face questions. It’s also a fact that some members of the audience intentionally ask confusing and hard questions just to embarrass the presenter. Such people are generally rivals of the presenter who don’t want the presenter to succeed in their presentation. If you’re conducting a sales presentation where several of your competitors, who are also vying, like you, to get chosen by the client, are part of your audience, presenters from rival companies may deliberately ask irrelevant or difficult questions, just to catch you, off-guard. So, it’s imperative that you arm yourself with enough ammo to fire back when the audience starts aiming salvos at you.

What the fifth of the presentation tips says is that you need to prepare yourself thoroughly with possible questions and answers so that no one can catch you unprepared. If you think that you’ve waved goodbye to your books long ago, think again. Open them after dusting them, if necessary, and slog hard. Also, ask your team members and seniors about the questions that you may be asked and ask them the right answers to the questions too. This is one of the toughest presentation tips as this tip insists that you do your homework thoroughly. Being slapdash with your academic as well as your practical preparation will get you nowhere. Another thing – don’t expect your seniors to supply you with questions while you sit back and relax. You must take the initiative of approaching them and asking them. Only then will you get the answers.

The Sixth of the Presentation Tips

The sixth of the presentation tips asks you to give handouts to all the members of the audience. The handouts must be a summary of your presentation but should be enough to remind readers of all that you said. It’s mandatory that you distribute handouts. Of course, none of the audience can force you to give them handouts but they expect handouts from you. It’s the only way they can remember and refer to your presentation, a few days after it’s over. Your name, official designation and contact numbers should be clearly printed on the handouts so that they can remember you better and get in touch with you, if necessary. However, if you’re a seasoned and well-known presenter, the audience will automatically remember you but you must still mention your name and designation on the handouts. Handouts are a must for presentations.

The Seventh of the Presentation Tips

This one of the presentation tips requests you to do a bit of acting. Now don’t get scared. You don’t have to be like Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman, Tom Hanks, Russell Crowe or Johnny Depp. You don’t have to be an Oscar nominee to conduct a presentation. All you have to do is to ‘act natural’. You should be absolutely free while presenting. It’s absolutely fine if you say, ‘Hey, so where were we?’ It doesn’t mean that you’ve forgotten where you were and are asking your spectators to guide you back to the right path. It only means that you’re ‘acting naturally’ and showing that you’re cool and not a bit anxious about your presentation.

Initially, in your first few presentations, you might be tense and taut and get irritated if members of the audience digress, but you’ll find that as you’re becoming a veteran in presenting, you’re welcoming digressions and encouraging the lighter side of presentations. Little quips; examples that evoke stories and incidents; stories and incidents that are related to the topic you’re discussing; jokes, riddles and wisecracks; personal experiences; and parable-like tales that are part of the digression actually help to make your presentation more interesting than ever. They help you to be remembered as a great presenter and your presentation to be remembered as a truly enlightening presentation. Of course, it’s your duty to steer your presentation back to its course, if it has deviated too far from the actual topic. But when you’re steering your presentation back to its right path, don’t sound like a captain or commander, steer with ease, dignity and grace so that the audience are glad to come back.

The Eighth of the Presentation Tips

One of the most noteworthy presentation tips is that you display appropriate body language. Your body language shows who you are, how confident and capable you are and reveals your personality just as an open diary reveals all hidden secrets. So, don’t walk hunched, always have eye contact, don’t slump in your seat when there’s a break, don’t yawn, don’t bite your nails, and don’t look stunned at an unexpected question. Most importantly, think positive so that you feel positive. Think that you’ll win and you’ll really win. Don’t get peeved if members of the audience taunt you. Ignore them at first, and if they keep jeering you, tell them to get out. Never hesitate to demonstrate your powers as a presenter, if the situation demands it. Remember, if you’re a fresher in the business of presenting, and you’ve prepared well, nothing should daunt you. And if you’re an old warhorse where presentations are concerned, you’ll know the type of audience whom you’ll have to face, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

The Ninth of the Presentation Tips

Eat a balanced diet. Stop gorging on junk food a week before your presentation. Don’t go out in the cold or in the rains unless you have experience of conducting presentations with panache despite a running nose and a searing headache. However, don’t be too cocksure. If you carried off your last presentation with eclat in spite of partying the whole night before and feeling groggy, you might not be able to pull it off a second time. So, the ninth of the presentation tips asks you to take care of your health before a presentation. Don’t worry. There’s always time to celebrate after a successful presentation.

The Last of the Presentation Tips

And finally, since we’re giving you presentation tips, we’ll have to mention that you try out Meeting Diary. Meeting Diary is an excellent online diary that helps you to plan and arrange for meetings and presentations. You can upload all your documents into this wonderful application so that you don’t have to carry anything to your presentation. Meeting Diary is a platform independent application and can be accessed from any PC, laptop or machine that’s connected to the Internet. So, all you have to do in your presentation is open Meeting Diary on your laptop and find all your documents. Meeting Diary is the best place where you can store your meeting and presentation agenda, meeting minutes and presentation summaries. Instead of carrying loads of files and papers which you might misplace, you can easily read off the agenda from Meeting Diary. As you can upload all the names and particulars of your contacts into Meeting Diary as well as import email contacts from various email applications into Meeting Diary, effortlessly, you can easily send invitations to your presentation attendees through Meeting Diary and know in advance who’ll be coming and who won’t. You can also network professionally via Meeting Diary. Meeting Diary is a brilliant webapp that helps you to conduct presentations seamlessly. It facilitates the processes of presentation, conference and business management. If you use Meeting Diary for your presentation and business operations, you’ll really have nothing to be nervous about. Meeting Diary is a software that’ll help you to make your presentation a thumping success and a smash hit. Meeting Diary doesn’t charge anything for all the services that it offers. Which means you can use the webapp, free of cost! Pay heed to this last and most significant of the presentation tips because Meeting Diary has been designed keeping an ambitious presenter’s needs in mind.

Damien Ghosh is a prolific writer of articles that focus on technology, places and people. Damien has worked in different industries such as the information technology industry, the travel and tourism industry and the retail industry. He has worked in several projects for blue-chip companies, that are part of the IT, travel and tourism and retail industries. His work and his passion for traveling has made him journey throughout the world. He has led large work-teams to accomplish business goals successfully. His rich experience undoubtedly helps him to write extensively. Damien writes for magazines, the web and for newspapers. His articles have

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