February 02, 2011

Effective Presentations

Thought of doing a bullet list of a few things that may make your presentation more effective.

  • You are the Presenter! - Perhaps a bit obvious, but too often, a presentation is spoilt by a slide show taking up your distinguished position. Don't get your extras lead the presentation. You should be in charge. By extras I mean your slides, or any other visuals or realia you may want to use.
  • Practise, Practise and More! OK, the amount of content you can possibly cover depends on how much time you have but if you do a lot of practice, it will help you tackle one of the most important aspects of a presentation - timing. Have a table clock in front of you, one you could easily check when you need to. When practising, ask a friend, family member or a colleague to be the audience.
  • Content - limit the content to a manageable amount within the time limit. By loading too much into your session, you are burdening the audience with information they don't need to know. The content should be based on a simple structure that is easy to follow.
  • Voice Projection - a good controlled voice depends on how well you breathe(another skill, basically meaning that you should make time to inhale a good amount of air to fill your lungs) and whether you take gaps between your words and sentences.
  • Audience vs You - Again the reminder is you are in charge. It doesn't matter who is in the audience. The time is yours and solely yours. You do what you planned to do and you decide the amount of information you want to give and when (if at all) you'll take the audience's questions. Make eye contact with people in different sections of the audience so that they feel that they are all included and that you are talking to the whole audience.
  • Relaxing and Posture - Proper inhaling mentioned above will help. Also, your posture should be such that your body is straight most of the time rather than angled. Let your legs take the full weight of your body (as opposed to leaning against a desk, for example) and stand facing the audience. Walk around your space if you need to move.
  • Visuals & other Aids - Any aids you use should serve a purpose , ie:- help the audience to understand what you say better, in other words it should be complementary and add extra meaning. The content in each slide should have as few words as possible and the same goes for the number of slides - as few as possible. Otherwise, as mentioned in point 1 above, the presentation will be all about what is on the slide and not you or what you say. Realia is good because they have a powerful and lasting impact.
  • Finally, finish with a meaningful but short message, if possible accompanied by a complementary visual (eg:- a slide) The idea is to create a lasting impact.

Best of Luck with your Presentation!

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