Tag Archives: Presentations

Making Effective Presentations Part I

A presentation is a means of communication that is adapted to various speaking situations.

The role of the presenter is to communicate with the audience and control the presentation.

Although the audience receives the presenter’s message, this reception will be filtered through and affected by the listener’s own experience, knowledge and personal values.

Planning and preparation is the single most important part of making a successful presentation.

Planning and Preparation                                                                                 

Strategy

Any presentation requires a clear strategy to help you reach your audience.

Strategy refers to what message you want to convey, and how you plan to deliver it, to your specific audience. Have clear goals about what you want to say to and accomplish with your audience.  Is your objective to inform, persuade, explain or motivate?  Be clear about who your audience is and why it is important for them to listen and pay attention. You must tailor your message to the audience.

Identify the tone you want to set for your presentation. If you are presenting to a group of experts, the tone of your voice is professional and respectful, in keeping with the formal language you use.

How long will your talk be? How will you help the audience to remember what you tell them?

What is your policy on questions? Will there be any discussion after the presentation?

When planning the content of your presentation, list the major points of information you want to convey.

Consider the number of key ideas and how much technical detail you want to include. This depends on the audience and the length of the presentation. The shorter the presentation, the fewer the number of key points. Simplify the content for a non-expert audience. Present the information in a logical sequence.

Visual aids like charts, graphs and videos can add impact to and understanding of your presentation, as well as adding variety and helping to increase the audience’s attention. They must be well-chosen, clear and well-prepared. They must strongly support what the speaker says, not just replace the spoken word. No matter who your audience is, the visual aid needs you, your interpretation, explanation, and justification.

Making Effective Presentations Part II

  • Planning and Preparation

Structure

A second step in the planning process is to develop the structure of your presentation.

Once you know what you want to say, you need to consolidate the materials into a meaningful message. In what order and how will you present the information? Don’t assume that the information will speak for itself.  Your audience may hear and process your information in very different ways based on your organization and presentation.

The audience needs to have the following questions answered:

  1. Why should they pay attention to you?
  2. When you have their attention, why should they care about the topic?
  3. If they agree with you about the significance of the topic, how are you justifying your ideas?
  4. Once you have convinced them, what do you want them to do? (What is the desired outcome?)

Develop a flexible, flowing structure. How your topic is relevant to your audience and what the benefits to them are should be addressed right away. Organize the body of the presentation logically; make it easy to follow.  Plan ways to encourage audience participation and maintain your credibility by discussing positive and negative views of what you are presenting. If you’re using visual aids, consider how you will incorporate them into your presentation effectively.

Style

The audience, your purpose and desired outcome will affect the presentation style you use.  How you present the information is as important as what you present.  Organizing your ideas is one of the presenter’s tasks; gaining and maintaining attention is the other.

Your first words must capture the audience’s attention, engage them, even surprise them. Some good techniques include giving a quotation, a startling statement or fact, asking a question for the audience to think about or telling a short story.

Eye contact is your key means for establishing audience involvement: maintain eye contact at least 80% of the time during the presentation.   Other features of a good presentation style are:

  • Speaking clearly
  • Using correct pronunciation
  • Varying the volume and rate of speech a little
  • Using the appropriate level of formality
  • Adding emphasis
  • Using brief notes as aids (but not reading them!)
  • Pausing occasionally
  • Using appropriate gestures and moving around a bit

 

Good preparation will not only ensure that you have given careful thought to the message you want to communicate, it will also build your confidence.