In today’s corporate world most positions involve making presentations – be it to clients, colleagues or to management. And the truth is, just as a book is often judged by its cover we are, more often than not, judged by how we say things rather than what we say.
Presentation is more than simply standing at a podium and running through a series of PowerPoint slides. It is about engaging the audience and presenting your ideas in a clear, concise and persuasive manner. A persuasive presentation should change the emotional state of the audience so they believe and feel a decision must be made…..right now. Your role as presenter is to motivate and incite the audience to act, think and feel differently as a result of what you’ve said so they will take some form of action.
To do this, we need to understand the different elements of effective communication. There are three components of the message you deliver; your words, your tone of voice and your body language.
When you are designing your presentation, the words you choose convey only 7% of the message. It is important that what you say to your audience be conveyed in the proper sequence. Your content may be brilliant, but can be boring if your message falls flat. Therefore, words alone are not enough.
Tone is the second component, 38% of a message is contained in the speaker’s tonality and emphasis on various words. By deliberately changing your tone of voice, you can transform the entire message and how you affect your audience. This is where practicing both soft and harsh tones can have an impact on the outcome of your presentation.
The last component of your message is body language. 55% of your message is contained in your non-verbal communication. Visual impressions are very powerful – posture and non-verbal communication such as eye contact, facial expressions, appearance, movement, body language and gestures play a major role in your ability to communicate.
Here eight things you can do today to put you on the path to becoming a better presenter.
1. Put yourself in the audience’s place. If your presentation is boring to you, it will be boring to them. Most people ask themselves, “What do I want to say to these people?” The questions you should be asking are, “What decisions do these people need to make?” and “What information do I need to provide so they can make an informed decision?” By starting with these questions, you’ll be in a better position to create content which engages your audience.
2. Match your presentation style to the size of your audience. Successful presenters match their style to the presentation situation. Ballroom style presentations are for larger audiences and the main objective of such presentations are to entertain. They are appropriate for imparting information to a large crowd such as that gathered in a hotel ballroom.
Conference style presentations are for smaller audiences and the objectives of these presentations are, by contrast, to inform and usually have a focused goal. The objective is to try to get the audience to take a specific action: buy the product, approve the proposal, implement the recommendations or make the investment.
3. Know your audience. Ask yourself the following questions: Who is likely to take action? How much does my audience already know? What would their likely response be? Is what I’m proposing in their best interest?
4. Use an attention grabbing opening. Some of the ways you can open the presentation include using a quote, give a statistic, ask the audience a question or cite a current news story or topical publication. A great opener will set the tone for what follows.
5. Use visuals to enhance your presentation and support your message. Visuals help your presentation make things happen. Clear pictures multiply the audience’s level of understanding and help the listeners’ recall days after the presentation. Visual aids add impact and interest to a presentation.
6. Prepare slides that are clear and readable. Use a minimum font size of 20 – 24pts. Use pictures, graphs, tables and props whenever you can. Limit the number of words and use large, bold letters Stick with commonly used fonts such as Arial, Helvetica, or Tahoma.
7. Close the presentation well. As you come to the end of the presentation, summarize the main points. Leave the audience with something to think about. If specific action is needed, get them started right away.
8. End with a statement of purpose. What you say last is what is remembered most. The purpose statement provides one to three key points you want your audience to remember. Use opportunity to drive home your key points one final time.
Apply these simple tips and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a great presenter.