Presentations are a way of communicating ideas and information to a group. A good presentation has the following:
Preparing the Presentation
1. A good presentation starts out with introductions and an icebreaker such as a story, interesting statement or fact, joke, quotation, or an activity to get the group warmed up. The introduction also needs an objective, that is, the purpose or goal of the presentation. This not only tells you what you will talk about, but it also informs the audience of the purpose of the presentation.
2. Next, comes the body of the presentation. Do NOT write it out word for word. All you want is an outline. By jotting down the main points on a set of index cards, you not only have your outline, but also a memory jogger for the actual presentation. To prepare the presentation, ask yourself the following:
There are several options for structuring the presentation:
4. After the body of the presentation, comes the closing. This is where you ask for questions, provide a wrap-up (summary), and thank the participants for attending
5. Finally, the important part - practice, practice, practice. The main purpose of creating an outline is to develop a coherent plan of what you want to talk about. You should know your presentation so well, that during the actual presentation, you should only have to briefly glance at your notes to ensure you are staying on track. Your practice session should include a "live" session by practising in front of other union members, family, or friends. Another great feedback technique, that you might want to use once or twice, is to make a video or audio tape of your presentation and review it with critically with a colleague.
The main enemy of a presenter is tension, which ruins the voice, posture, and spontaneity. The voice becomes higher as the throat tenses. Shoulders tighten up and limit flexibility while the legs start to shake and cause unsteadiness. The presentation becomes "canned" as the speaker locks in on the notes and starts to read directly from them.
First, do not fight nerves - welcome them! Then you can get on with the presentation instead of focusing in on being nervous. Actors recognise the value of nerves...they add to the value of the performance. This is because adrenaline starts to kick in. It's a left over from our ancestors' "fight or flight" syndrome. If you welcome nerves, then the presentation becomes a challenge and you can improve your performance. If you let your nerves take over, then you go into the flight mode by withdrawing from the audience. Again, welcome your nerves, recognise them, let them help you gain that needed edge! When you feel tension or anxiety, remember that everyone gets them, but the winners use them to their advantage, while the losers are overwhelmed by them.
Performing some relaxation exercises can reduce tension. Listed below are a couple to get you started:
The voice is probably the most valuable tool of the presenter. It carries most of the content that the audience takes away. One of the oddities of speech is that we can easily tell others what is wrong with their voice, e.g. too fast, too high, too soft, etc., but we have trouble listening to and changing our own voices.
There are four main terms used for defining vocal qualities:
When running an assembly, vary your voice. One of the major criticisms of speakers is that they speak in a monotone voice. Listeners perceive this type of speaker as boring and dull. People report that they learn less and lose interest more quickly when listening to those who have not learned to modulate their voices.
There are two good methods for improving your voice:
1. Listen to it! Practice listening to your voice while at home, driving, walking, etc. Then when you are at work or with company, monitor your voice to see if you are using it appropriately.
2. To really listen to your voice, cup your right hand around your right ear and gently pull the ear forward. Next, cup your left hand around your mouth and direct the sound straight into your ear. This helps you to really hear your voice as others hear it...and it might be completely different from the voice you thought it was! Now practice moderating your voice.
Your body communicates different impressions to the audience. People not only listen to you, they also watch you. Slouching tells them you are indifferent or you do not care...even though you might care a great deal! On the other hand, displaying good posture tells your audience that you know what you are doing and you care deeply about it. Also, a good posture helps you to speak more clearly and effectively.
Throughout your presentation, display:
Questions from your audience do not mean you did not explain the topic well enough, but that they require clarification, or would like further information on a related topic.
Always allow time at the end of a presentation for questions. After inviting questions, do not rush ahead if no one asks a question. Pause for about 6 seconds to allow the audience to gather their thoughts. When answering, direct your remarks to the entire audience. That way, you keep everyone focussed, not just the questioner. To reinforce your presentation, try to relate the question back to the main points. Make sure you listen to the question being asked. If you do not understand it, ask them to clarify. If you do not know the answer, be honest, do not waffle. Tell them you will get back to them...and make sure you do!
Answers that last 10 to 40 seconds work best. If they are too short, they seem abrupt while longer answers appear too elaborate. Also, be sure to keep on track. Do not let off-the-wall questions sidetrack you into areas that are not relevant to the presentation.
If someone takes issue with something you said, try to find a way to agree with part of his or her argument. For example, "Yes, I understand your position..." or "I'm glad you raised that point, but..." The idea is to praise their point and agree with them. Audiences sometimes tend to think of "us verses you." You do not want to alienate them.
Tips and Techniques for Great Presentations