Following on from our successful Return to Work event a couple of weeks ago, we thought we’d share some tips from our fantastic presenter, Gill Siebert;
Making a presentation – What to remember and plan for
Do not panic – regard this as an opportunity to shine, not a forum for failure.
Very little (outside of the potential for technical wizardry) will have changed since you left the workplace; almost nothing beats good planning and straightforward communication.
- Gather all the information you can prior to writing your presentation
- Spend a lot of time thinking about your presentation before you commit anything to paper
- Write in a way that flows like a story
– find out about the scale of the venue : is it large, small, intimate, or vast? This will affect not only how you present but way in which your message is received. Remember its actually easier to present to a large audience (remember the IMAX example) than a small room of people whose expressions you can read.
– will there be a stage, a lectern? The latter makes for a very formal tone to the presentation; think about that before you agree to stand behind one. If there’s a stage, how are you going to change your slides? Can you move about easily or will you have to keep coming back to one side?
– if you can, avoid being seated – to stand up in front of an audience gives you authority, and opportunity to be expressive with your body language, not just your voice.
– this affects not only where you stand but how your text will be displayed on screen – remember the charity event I told you about where no one could read the message?
Find out about all these things – and get a ‘feel’ for the room. Avoid surprises on the day.
– make friends with the tech guy.
– get your head around potentially temperamental stuff like Wi-Fi and internet connection, and find out about possible glitches.
– will you have to face a skype/satellite-linked presentation format?
– will there be anyone translating what you say? These affect your pace and your rhythm of speaking.
– take a back-up copy of your presentation!!
– find out about the ‘tone’ of the event – will it be relaxed, formal, what should you wear, who are the guests / attendees?
– when in the day (if it’s a conference) are you speaking? Remember its best to get the ‘am’ slot.
– find out what the other speakers are going to talk about – this allows you to reference them, build on what they are saying possibly. It makes it all feel ‘joined-up’ and makes you look fully part of the event.
- PLANNING AND WRITING
– go ‘old school’ – and write on paper first – no one plans in PowerPoint!
– plan lots – think lots – before you write. You are planning a narrative, not a series of unrelated slides.
– use a 3-act structure – a beginning, middle and end – its familiar, easy to follow and has its own rhythm.
– aim for ‘ahhh’ from your slides – you want people to agree with you – especially at the beginning when you are nervous. It’s good to have heads nodding in agreement, early on.
– think in pictures, images – and use them when you can – the mental processing is 60,000x faster than words.
– use metaphor to reinforce a point (remember “a computer is…..a bicycle for your mind”)
– use straight talk, no jargon!
– people will remember how you made them feel, probably not exactly what you said.
– if you can, try and avoid too many bullet points – they are for things like this document, not really for a visual presentation with impact.
– keep everything as simple as possible.
– practise more than you think is necessary.
- PREPARING TO SPEAK
– get to the venue early, and walk the stage / room – feel comfortable in the environment
– test the sound system, run through your presentation (with your new pal, the ‘tech guy’)
– your goal is to make your audience comfortable, to sit there and relax, knowing you know what you’re talking about – so….smile! It will make you feel better immediately.
– remember that no one wants to be up on stage, so you are already ahead of the game by being there.
– breathe – SLOWLY before starting to speak (count 7 in: 11 out) – and stay low and slow. If you breathe quickly, it will make you rush your speech.
– remember to pause – it’s an opportunity to mentally re-group, and it will get the audience’s attention too.
– engage with the audience – that’s eye contact, smiling, using positive body language, appearing ‘open’ and moving around the stage to include everyone.
Remember – it’s OK to be nervous – everyone is when speaking in public.
– it’s an opportunity you’ve been given above others in the company – grab the chance and use it to your advantage
Let me know if I can help – do please feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org