Study and Apply Fundamentals For Strong Presentations

Public speaking is an increasingly important skill in today’s economy. Whether you work in the public sector, private sector, or for a non-profit organization, you can benefit from developing strong presentation skills.

Entire books and courses are dedicated to this topic alone. We’ll briefly review some of the fundamentals needed for a strong presentation.

Remember that you are the expert. Your skills, experience, or training make you the ideal person to present the information. And, your audience needs what you have to say.

View each presentation as an opportunity to enrich the lives of your audience. Imagine yourself a coach or mentor, helping audience members as opposed to merely lecturing to them.

It’s OK to be nervous. Channel that energy to help you display your interest in and passion for your topic. Remember that for the most part your nervousness doesn’t show.

A few ideas to keep in mind as you develop your materials:

Consider your audience. Who are they, and what do they know about your industry or field? Use words and terms they understand. A person in the financial services sector, for example, speaks differently to colleagues than to retirees.

Tailor your message to their needs. Talk about profits gained, losses curbed, increased job security, more comfortable retirement, and so on.

Factor in your strengths. Perhaps you attended a workshop, conference, or seminar; worked on a special project; or developed a fascinating solution to an unusual problem.

Include a call for action. That may be to place an order or to accept your budget, plan, or other idea. Your presentation must have a purpose.

Try a process known as visualization prior to speaking. Imagine yourself successfully presenting your material. You will think of additional questions and objections to address, and be even more prepared. Pump yourself up with power quotes and other motivational thoughts. You will enter the room confident and assertive.

Always use notes or a script. Don’t risk forgetting important details and the embarrassment of having to send follow-up messages.

You must rehearse your presentation, especially if you are using equipment. We’ve all attended meetings that failed because a laptop simply refused to work with the digital projector. Iron out those bugs in advance to avoid ruining your presentation.

Some additional items to consider as you prepare your presentation.

Clothing and jewelry should be plain and simple. Large, gaudy pins and earrings can be distracting. Eat light beforehand, and watch certain foods. Dairy products and sweets make you clear your throat, carbonated beverages cause belching, and greasy foods leave an annoying film on your teeth.

Don’t bind or staple your script. That forces you to turn the pages, which is distracting. You should slide your pages as you speak. Avoid licking your finger before grasping a page. If you have dry skin, apply a few drops of hand lotion prior to your presentation. Remember to maintain eye contact as you turn pages.

Keep your hands free, especially if you’re a fidgety type. Clicking a pen or jingling coins in your pocket is very annoying. Feel free to move about while speaking to small groups. You’ll be more relaxed and in control.

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