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.

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Other articles about planning and delivering your presentation:

Who’s to blame?

Did you ever realize that only 7% of your message is conveyed by actual words or content, while 38% is transmitted by tone of voice and volume of speech? (The other 55% is delivered through non-verbal means.) That’s at least what Dr. Albert Mehrabian’s published in his book “Silent Messages” about his research on nonverbal communication and emotions.

Even if you don’t agree with the numbers above (personally I have some problems with the mere 7% attributed to words that you speak), there is some lesson to learn for public (and non-public) presenters.

Although I realize that most blog posts are written only for reading, let me engage you in a small oral exercise. Read the text below aloud and put emphasis on the words in bold.

I didn’t say it was your fault.

didn’t say it was your fault.

I didn’t say it was your fault.

I didn’t say it was your fault.

I didn’t say it was your fault.

I didn’t say it was your fault.

I didn’t say it was your fault.

Did the way you stress certain words actually change the meaning of the statement?

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Always make sure that your tone is consistent with your message. As such, it might be good to know the context and what comes after. The full version of this phrase (which is said to be one of Winston Churchill’s favorite paraprosdokians) sounds like: “I didn’t say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.