P4 Follow–up 4: The Final review of “Delivering effective presentations”
“Presentations done! Whats to come?”
“Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future” - Steve Jobs
Now that all the academic presentations are done, it is the perfect time to reflect on and assess the steps I took, hurdles faced and most of all the results I achieved. It would pave the way for me to develop the optimal strategy for the surprises the future might harbour.
So first things first, my action points formulated subsequent to the workshop are as follows:
- Tackling initial nervousness with concentrated and calm breathing
- Ensuring a thorough filter of all the research available to ensure a flowing story with correct and only enough information to match the time available.(MUST, COULD & SHOULD know technique).
- Obtain correct preparation: with a systematic personalised but flowing structure alongside other tools.
- Practise is also another point ( few sessions with loud presentations in front of the mirror or other people, as similar conditions as possible to the real thing)
Nerves are my biggest downfall. Correction they were my biggest downfall, however with different techniques I have found my own way to handle it. Definitely breathing has always helped, but ensuring all of the action points are handled built the overall picture which helped handle the nerves, and in one way helping me use the nervousness to my advantage.
Refraining from being too conscious of my speaking has really helped. Rather than worrying about how I will speak, keeping focus on the information and knowledge as well as my image, hand gestures all helped in being less self conscious. Additionally, it was then I would give little focus to how I am speaking with respect to changes in tone, intonation etc. As I am generally a good speaker with respect to clarity, power and emphasizing ( tone), however it is when I get nervous that all of this goes down the drain. Probably resultant of a bad experience I once had, where I was so nervous that I felt my knees wobbling and in turn being conscious the visous cycle of self-conscious negative feedback started.
I must say at the start of the year, I was trying to make my own methodology to tackle presentations. It did help me progress a little but I still had issues. This was reflected in the marks that I got as initially at the start of the year I obtained a mark in the late 50s, which was poor considering the amount of work I had put in.
Following the workshops I was able to develop significantly to the point now looking back I myself can’t believe the person I have become. The workshop on “Assertiveness” did significantly support my development with presentations .
Following the procedure of assessing the content “MUST, COULD & SHOULD” has helped me in regulating the amount of information I put into the presentation, thus helping me get a thorough understanding of the topic and not being overwhelmed with the information. To add to this was the highly important issue of script. At the start of the year when I did not modulate the amount of information properly I always had 3-4 pages full of text ( what I was going to speak during my presentations). I had never realised having a script really did add to issue of nervousness, as I was always worried “ DID I SAY EVERYTHING?”. This always mean I looked at the script, lost my flow, poor eye contact and pitch, all leading to increased nervousness. I soon started to use small flash cards, particularly ever since a particular presentation I had.
There was a specific occasion whilst in a group when we tried to come up with the slides. However, due to language barriers and other issues a number of members didn’t contribute enough hence I had to stay up the whole night without any sleep. THe next morning the 2nd presenter had intense stage fright and wouldn’t go on for the “BUSINESS PLAN” presentation asking me to play the role of the second presenter. On the spot last minute without any preparation I went on with my colleague. Luckily as I had made the presentation I had a thorough understanding of the topic. At first I was nervous but because I was sleep deprived and annoyed at the other person for pulling out at the last minute, I somehow did not come across nervous at all. This was the first time I actually implemented the 5 Ps of presentation without realising. It was only after the PPT, that I realised I spoke well covered all aspect and spoke only what was needed, without the need of a script.
Ever since I was exuberant at the prospect of presentations, thanks to that one success. Using these action points and the techniques taught, especially the two finger rule, I have ever since only improved on my presentational styles. Most of all, it has changed me into a presenter that can talk without a script with confidence. One significant feat was the presentation I gave in the workshop as it was then I was taking my baby steps into becoming a good presenter. Using the nervousness energy/power to do anything, rather than for worry has helped me with confidence and my ability.
The basics of getting ready for a presentation are etched into me, as I want to excel and obtain something once I was so worried was my biggest weakness. These techniques and steps are becoming a habit in preparing for a ppt. Specifically ensuring the structure is interesting and logical for not only myself but others helped me in getting my points across well. Always making sure the structure is different and creative has helped me see presentations as a performance, my unique performance. I have always seen if I am not happy and santisfied with the structure it affect how I actually relate it to the audience, as a doubt in my mind creates a doubt in my tone and speaking while relating it the audience. Thus always during preparation the “STRUCTURE” comes first, and only when I am happy with that will I go forwards. Kind of to the point, I am slightly fussy about it. However you have to fussy about something that will affect your delivery. As previously mentioned “FILTERING OF THE INFORMATION” is another key aspect, as you can always overload the information. Especially being a masters student, a critical approach is looked for by others. It is also key for me to keep a track of time. On the occasions , where I used long scripts I always had issues with time or whilst trying to keep in time I would be speaking at the speed of a train. All of these have affected my prior presentations negatively. However throwing the script aside and keeping only key words as reminders has helped significantly. Particularly being a part of group presentations where I opted to take the second half of the presentation and finish it, meant I had to be critical with the information I provide. Having done this a number of time, especially the first time I tried it by keep a eye on a friends IPAD, I have the learnt the art of assessing the amount of time left, amount of information left to talk about and thus formulate best means of keeping on track with time whilst exuding the optimal amount of data. The first time I tried this I came down to the last few seconds where I gave my final concluding remark and finishing statement.
Practice is another key feature for delivering effective presentations, however the technicality of how you practise comes down to each person. As I mentioned in my previous post (follow up 4) practice in front of a mirror does not work for me, but is after getting into the right mid-set for the presentation, going through the whole presentation whilst doing other things really takes the daunting factor away whilst also being a practise session. Personally, I would practise anywhere except in front of people and/or mirrors J. Common places for me would be in the shower, whilst working out or even whilst listening to music.
On the whole these aspect of presentations are key into effective delivery, it is always breaking the ice and tackling the first ppt with focus and direction that helps you develop and pave the path for success in all others. Other important areas I had not mentioned are confidence, Props and the SLIDEs.
A key feature of all successful presentations are confidence. I have come to learn that the single most important criteria for delivering effective presentations- can be faked! Because it’s all about the body language; stand straight, shoulders up, own your grounds by positioning your legs parallel and a bit away from each other, and speak in a strong tone. However, I also have seen the effect of true confidence, which you can obtain if you see a presentation as a performance, where you are educating someone on a particular topic. Confidence can also be true if you are truly proud of your slide design or content use etc. Points which you know will set you apart from others. Also if you truly see the topic from a “Curiosity and interest” point of view, your enthusiasm and confidence can be passed to the audience. This is what sets you apart as an interactive and confident speaker. This was something I realised during the business plan presentation (mentioned earlier) where I was asked to present at the last minute (10minutes before the seminars started). After giving the PPT, the professor did mention my enthusiasm and trust in the product I pitched was a singular factor that changed their minds on whether to invest in this product or not, it showed my confidence in myself and my product.
Moreover, using props are a good way of interacting with the audience, making your ppt stand out and memorable. This woks like magic. I remember myself implementing this into the paper plane I made for the ppt during the workshop, as well as using the highlighter as a flower to say 5 traits like the 5 petals of a flower make Coventry truly the place to be J.
I know for a fact presentations are not only formal for academia, but is an aspect of yourself everything you do, conversation or meeting someone for the first time and most important of all at interviews. The techniques I have learnt will play a key role in the areas stated above. Not always feasible, as you won’t implement all at all times, but with practice this is becoming a part of me, my personality, a habit.
Delivering effective presentations are not only useful for presentations you give but helps you to be the free and confident public speaker you always dreamt of being.
A very big thank you to Bev for this immensely insightful, helpful and personal character developing workshops. It has played a very very big role for the change I wanted, from the person I was to who I am now.