Plan and deliver ― your presentation

“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave, and the one you wish you gave.” ― Dale Carnegie

I am aware that many of you may suffer from glossophobia, or fear of public speaking. But honestly, if you have invested enough time in defining your pitch and preparing your presentation there’s really not that much left to worry about.

  • Make sure to avoid unpleasant surprises. Arrive at the venue well in time, get familiar with the room in which you will present, and check the A/V equipment before your start. And when you’re planning a demo, dry-run it a few minutes ― not a few hours! ― in advance.
  • Go on stage with a positive attitude. Don’t get paralyzed by stage fright. You know that you can do it! Take a deep breath before you start and give the audience what they came for.
  • Start with a short silence. Then grab your audience’s attention from the first second onward. Surprise, intrigue or provoke them with an opening statement or poll.
  • As I have explained in many of my older blog posts, when you give a presentation, you need to get your audience engaged. Appeal to their emotions, by telling a personal story. A good practice is to try to make eye contact with a few individuals in the audience and monitor their body language.
  • But, watch your own body language and nonverbal communication too. Your tone of voice, volume of speech, as well as your facial expression, stance and gestures should add to or complement your verbal message.
  • Speak in short sentences and pause often. Pause right before a key point to create a sense of anticipation. Pause right after a key point to allow it to sink in. And, most importantly, don’t forget to breathe.
  • Take care of your speaking time. Ask a time keeper in the audience to give you a five or ten minute warning. If you feel you’re going to run over time, adapt your story and/or your pace, or consider skipping details and less meaningful slides.
  • Concentrate on the message — not the medium. Only present your own pitch and show the slides you prepared yourself. Don’t let the visuals dominate your talk. Never read your slides aloud: most people in the room already know how to read!
  • Be aware where you stand, don’t obscure the screen, and don’t turn your back to the audience. When you like to move around on stage, make sure you use a remote control device (that’s why I always carry a clicker on me, along with a spare battery ― prevention is better than cure.)
  • End your presentation in a powerful way. Your closing is your chance to leave a final impression on the audience. Don’t lose energy. Don’t change style. Don’t stop cold. Summarize your main ideas and key points. And call the people in the room to action.

This ends my series of articles about the 3 P’s. Do you still know what they stand for?  If you want to be a professional public presenter, then take control of your pitch, your preparation and your presentation.


Other articles about planning and delivering your presentation:

Amen and… action!

Storytelling is not only a hot topic in B2B. It is also one of the foundations of P2P (Pastor-to-Parish) communications. Biblical storytelling was already a common practice in churches and temples many centuries before the invention of PowerPoint, and has even not missed its entry into the transmedia age.

For all of us in business, religious persons or not, there’s a lot we can learn from pastors and preachers. As an example, here is an excerpt from a 2003 dissertation by D.E. Green, titled “The proper use of cinematic storytelling in biblical preaching”.

“The climax of any sermon must be the experiencing of the gospel. The call to action must be a direct reflection of the experienced gospel. A precise summation, then, directs the listener toward the appropriate response as a ‘receiver’ of the good news.
The pastors of many growing contemporary churches extol the power ending with a clear and simple action step. They do this because they know that if you want men to apply a truth, it is helpful to have it ‘spelled out.’ Women tend to translate principle into action; men need clarity.”

Can you find a better definition for –or application of– the Call to Action? A technique used by so many professional speakers today. In business, as in church, you want to dismiss the men and women in your audience with clear directions. Tell them what you want them to remember, what they need to do, and how they can get there.

Go in peace, and may your presentations always include a memorable call to action.