local trainer covers the basics of making presentations
Five fundamentals of speaking
to make a presentation? Want it to be a good one? Pay attention to the
fundamentals and you really can't go wrong.
These fundamentals form the
foundation that gives a presentation polish, interest-value and that
desirable quality of connecting with the audience. Whether you are new
at presenting or highly experienced, it pays to go back to the fundamentals
to vitalize your delivery. Let's take a look at several.
Build your foundation on
a strong desire to share your information. It's pretty hard to present
well if you really don't care to be doing it. So dig deep and find your
motivation. Set a goal for yourself (such as creating three new visuals
to illustrate key points), challenge yourself (for example, I'll catch
Jim's attention and replace his bored expression with a spark of interest),
remind yourself of the reasons you are presenting (I used to think I
could do a good job at this. Am I really doing the best I can?). Spend
some time creating an eagerness to share, because it is the foundation
from which good talks grow. Inspire yourself or you'll never inspire
A second key is selecting
a topic carefully. Nothing in the way you present can compensate if
your listeners fail to see their connection with your topic. You'll
need to understand your listeners in order to truly address their needs.
Sometimes this demands some research and creativity on your part, but
it is time and effort well spent. Hook the information you want to communicate
to something that is already part of your listeners' experience. Consider
a splashy opening, a thought-provoking question, or an attention getter
to draw them in.
Third, you need to prepare
by understanding your audience and making the topic relevant to them.
Prepare by knowing your topic inside and out. You need to be fluent,
to iron out any glitches in advance, and to have well in mind the key
points you want to cover. If you are using audio/visuals, take time
to set up the equipment and do a run-through to discover and fix any
problems in advance. Don't let the potential for problems deter you
from using technology to enhance your delivery. Just remember to prepare
a "plan B". Ever been on a roll when the power fails or a
slide sticks? Be ready! Know exactly how to complete your presentation
without the equipment, just in case.
Some presenters try to
prepare by memorizing their talk, thinking this will take away their
nervousness. Actually, memorizing lines only increases the tension
of presenting. You start to focus on remembering each word rather
than communicating with your listener. Instead, prepare by establishing
a flow of ideas or points that you wish to make. Ask yourself what
three things you want your listener to remember about your topic.
Consider your presentation a success if you have successfully communicated
those three things.
Which brings us to one
of the most vital fundamentals: enthusiasm. How do people know you
have a desire to share your presentation with them? By the outward
signs of your enthusiasm! Start by warming yourself up for the task
so you can open with a bang. Before the audience gathers, practice
smiling, even laughing and talking out loud, to loosen up. Stretch
your arms, breathe deep and grin some more. When you begin, smile
and take your position with a bound in your step. Show your eagerness
to be there and your pleasure at being able to talk with this group.
What's that? You say you hate giving presentations? Nonsense! You
don't want your audience to see that. Better to do all you can to
look like you are enjoying yourself. You may surprise yourself by
actually forgetting your discomfort.
An instructor in a leadership
course once asked one of the students if he had paid attention to
the fundamentals and if he had enthusiasm for his topic. "Oh,
yes," came the reply through clenched teeth."Then would
you please notify your face?" she said. "It hasn't gotten
the message!" A genuine smile, some eye contact, relaxed gestures
and a strong voice will help you convey enthusiasm. And enthusiasm
is contagious. Surely you want your listeners to have some degree
of enthusiasm for what you say. Well, it must originate with you.
So pull out the stops, rev up your motor, and notify your face that
it's show time!
The final fundamental we
want to address here is self-confidence. Self-confidence comes from
getting a few satisfactory experiences with presenting behind you.
And most importantly, it comes from going ahead and doing what makes
you uncomfortable or even fearful. The experience of conquering fear
is what makes us brave. Which leads some folks to ask, "If self-
confidence is something that comes from experience, how do I get self-confident
for my first presentations?" Well the answer is that, initially,
you may have to fake confidence! If you pay close attention to the
fundamentals, especially enthusiasm, you will at least appear to be
confident. If you address each of the other fundamentals (picking
your topic carefully, developing an eagerness to share your information
and preparing thoroughly) you can expect your presentation to be a
good one. After that, you will build real confidence with each successful
So that's itfive
fundamentals of presentations you can be proud of: desire to share,
topic selection, preparation, enthusiasm, and self-confidence! They
are easy to learn and understand, but their true value lies in rigorously
applying them. Begin by incorporating any one of the five into your
talk, and it will surely improve. Incorporate all five and you'll
Barbara Kreski is the training
director for the Chicago Center of the Gabriel Richard Institute,
a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to help people develop
practical leadership skills.
For more information about
public speaking and leadership workshops, please call the Institute
at 312/ 237-8745.