Improved Presentations in Five Easy Steps, Part I
OK, you’re a brilliant IT professional. Your services are in demand, and your customers worship the ground you walk on. But now, you’re asked to deliver a presentation and the ground rules have changed.
You’re expected not only to be brilliant, but to speak expressively, stand confidently, and engage the audience. Oh boy— stress, here we come!
In this article, I will provide you with three ways to improve your presentations.
In the next article, I’ll provide you with two additional ones.
Step # 1: Turn nervousness into positive energy
We all get nervous before presenting, but what negatively impacts a majority of speakers is that they focus on the nervousness. I suggest you focus instead on the audience and the message you’re presenting. Focusing on your nervousness will only cause it to keep growing-not a very wise use of your time and energy, is it? A bit of nervousness is fine, as it creates the adrenaline rush which makes you think more quickly on your feet. So the next time you feel yourself starting to get nervous, say to yourself, It’s OK to be a little nervous; I’m human and subject to emotion. Make the commitment to turn that nervousness into positive energy which is needed to deliver an outstanding presentation, and you’ll find that the nervousness will start to subside.
Step#2: Make a Great First Impression
How long do you think you have to do that? Only 3 seconds! Do so by walking to the speaking area with confidence, holding your shoulders upright. Set up your notes silently and take a few seconds to get settled. Resist the temptation to start speaking immediately.
Next, smile and scan the audience. This lets them know you’re ready to start and non-verbally sends the message that you have something important to say. As you scan the audience, seek out two friendly faces. When you do begin speaking, look at the first friendly face for 10-15 seconds and the same with the second one
Start with an attention-grabber. Tell a story, use a quotation, reveal a startling statistic or use another device that will pull the audience in and entice them to continue paying attention.
Step#3: Think Conversation instead of presentation
Let’s do a word association. When I say the word "presentation, what comes to mind? More than likely, words such as: formal, stuffy, stiff, and one-way communication. Let’s try the same thing with "conversation." What comes to mind now? Typical responses are: Conversation is more natural, relaxed, and friendly. Conversation is more like two-way communication than a presentation.
In view of what we just discovered, why not think of your next presentation as a conversation? As we engage in conversation all the time, it feels more natural to us. A presentation is merely a conversation with a few more people present and one on which you’ve spent time preparing. Hopefully, you’ve organized your points and carefully chosen your words, which we typically don’t have time to do in a conversation.
Enhance your delivery by using an upbeat, natural voice-one that sounds like you’re speaking with the audience rather than at them. Be sure to maintain eye contact and have a pleasant smile on your face.
If you think conversation vs. presentation, you’ll find that the audience will be listening attentively from beginning to end.
The next time you are asked to deliver a presentation, don’t panic. Turn your nervousness into positive energy, make a great first impression, and think "conversation" instead of "presentation."
Stay tuned for the next article that will provide you with two additional steps to improved presentations!
I have posted this snippet from the INETA Newsletter and I think this piece is written by Marsha Freedman, of Express Yourself Communications. Marsha Freedman is available for coaching individuals and training groups in presentation and communication skills. Below is the website address. http://www.xprself.com