Thursday, February 23, 2012
Four tips for your next presentation
You could forgive people for feeling so in this age of rapid, social media commentary and rich media sharing. Your gaffe could be the next YouTube and Twitter sensation. And as Brian Solis explains, any damage sustained in our social networks is felt deeply indeed. To paraphrase and re-purpose a Mark Twain quote, "Better to stay silent and let people think you're an idiot, than to make a mistake and have Twitter remove all doubt."
All the more reason to make sure your presentation is the best it can possibly be. Not all speeches and not all speakers are created equal, of course. The person who may have an audience in stitches with humor may fall flat giving a technical presentation to a group of engineers. With that in mind, here are a few tips applicable to most any kind of public speaking endeavor that can help you drive home your core message.
1) Tell a (brief) story. In fact, tell a few. Your material comes to life when it can be applied in real-world situations. The most memorable speeches, like the most memorable ads, are those that make an emotional connection. That is accomplished most fully when the audience can easily see how the point you're making applies to them.
3) Ditch PowerPoint for Prezi. Speaking of visually dynamic, please allow an unsolicited endorsement for Prezi. There isn't much that can be done to verbally describe the difference it makes versus PowerPoint. I really encourage you to check out the website for yourself. Prezi quite literally puts your content into motion, keeping the focus glued onto the presentation screen to see what animation will happen next. Prezi requires a software download, so it may not be able to be used in situations in which your own equipment can't be used. But it is well worth the investment in learning this method of presenting.
4. Rehearse. I don't care how many speeches you think you've nailed, there is always a need to rehearse the timing, inflection, and transitions in your speech. Rehearsing not only makes you more familiar with your own content, but it allows you to mentally form connections between points in your speech, so that you can effectively prepare your audience to receive the message you deliver.
4.5) One more thing: Never allude to content you'll "get to in a minute." This is more a personal peeve, but please, never bring up a topic only to tell your audience you'll cover it later. You'll annoy your audience in at least a couple ways: First, you'll give the impression you're rambling and unfocused. Second, you'll draw attention to exactly how long you've been speaking. You don't want your audience focusing on anything but what you're saying at that moment. Shifting the focus to content that is not right in front of them breaks the rhythmic relationship of presenter and audience.
How do you prepare for a presentation? Share your tips below.