Presentation Primer

Many individuals are called upon to give presentations, but many have no formal instruction on how to deliver the most effective presentations. So for the benefit of those who might need a bit of help, we've put together a "primer" for presenters...

1. Attire

You should always dress professionally, even if the event is somewhat informal in nature, and always dress in a way that does not distract or detract from your presentation.

2. Test The Equipment

If your presentation involves using any equipment, such as a microphone, computer, screen projector, laser pointer, etc, be sure to test any and all of the equipment prior to the beginning of your presentation. It is unprofessional, not to mention frustrating and distracting, to have to wrestle with equipment problems in front of a waiting audience. Try to identify and resolve any technical issues and problems before the presentation is scheduled to begin.

3. Preview

At the beginning of the presentation, provide an overview of what you will be discussing during the presentation.

4. Articulate

Be sure to enunciate and articulate your words, and speak at a volume that can be heard without shouting or straining. If you are presenting to an audience that includes non-native speakers, it is imperative that you speak slowly and attempt to minimize any accent you might have.

5. Connect

The most powerful presenters have the ability to connect with their audience. Try not to take yourself too seriously. Engage your audience with personal stories. Be sure to look at the audience and not just your notes -- eye contact is key to connecting with the audience. If appropriate, use humor to help your audience relax.

6. Be Confident

Speak with conviction. When you are presenting, your confidence will come through in your presentation.

7. Knowledge

Know the subject material that you are presenting. Do not attempt to tackle a subject that you lack knowledge of or experience with. Make sure you are up to speed, and can deftly handle any questions about the subject matter that might be thrown your way.

8. Language Translations

If the presentation is being translated into a different language, try to meet with the translator before the presentation. Review the presentation, and point out the parts that are most important. Make sure they understand the context of any words and phrases that might be specific to your industry. Hired translators will often not understand or know how to translate unfamiliar terms that may be specific to your industry, so try to use a translator that has a basic understanding of the topic you are speaking about. Additionally, it is helpful to provide the translator with printed copies of the slides in advance, so they can follow along and refer to them during the presentation.

9. Stay on Topic

Try not to become distracted and wander off topic. It is not only a good idea, but common practice as well, to postpone dealing with any audience questions until the end of the presentation. This will help you maintain your focus during the presentation, and will help avoid being distracted, which often results in losing your place in the presentation.

10. Theme

All the slides in a presentation should relate to each other. Use professional-quality PowerPoint templates to enhance your presentation, like those found at "PPT Templates" ( http://www.ppt-templates.net ).

11. Know Your Audience

Knowing the expertise and expectations of your audience allows you to tailor the presentation to them, and to provide content that is most appropriate for your audience.

12. Time Awareness

Be aware of the time allotted for the presentation, and practice it to insure that your presentation easily remains within the given time period. If appropriate, try to leave some free time at the end of the presentation to allow for follow-up questions and inquiries, distributing handouts, and more detailed one-on-one discussions.

13. Handouts

Handouts are an excellent way to provide the audience with additional information on your topic, along with URLs and other resources that are referenced during the presentation. Brand each handout to match the presentation. The additional continuity between presentation and handouts will add an extra level of professionalism to the overall presentation. Be sure to let the audience know that a handout is available at the beginning of the presentation, allowing them to focus their attention on the presentation itself rather than feeling compelled to take hurried and detailed notes during the presentation.

14. Practice

Remember the saying "practice makes perfect"? Well, it definitely makes a difference when presenting. Conduct a few "dry runs" to become more comfortable and confident with the presentation, as well as to workout any glitches.

15. Relax

Relax before you present, and try to clear your mind and let go of any anxiety. Keep in mind that body language is important. Your audience will instinctively know if you are anxious about the presentation.

16. Summarize

At the conclusion of the presentation, summarize the important points that were conveyed. This not only gives additional emphasis to the important points, but also helps the audience remember them later.

17. Contact Info

Provide full contact information on your final slide.

Giving a public presentation need not be a stressful experience. Prepare properly, and follow the presentation primer above, and you will find that making presentations are much easier than you once imagined.

Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.


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