Nothing grates on the ol’ nerves quite like speaking to an audience of potential clients. Too often, a speaker will pour all of their nervous energy into a PowerPoint presentation, in an attempt to dazzle the crowd with graphics and transitions. Let us warn you, if a Powerpoint is over the top, it can distract from the message. You are the speaker, you are the focus, here are a few tips to dazzle the audience with your most powerful presentation tool, yourself.
Don’t use PowerPoint as a Crutch
Planning is good; notes and PowerPoint’s are necessary, but don’t write your script in stone. If you are presenting it, you are likely the authority on the subject – you should be able to talk about the topic without a script.. If you know your material inside and out, you have the freedom to focus on being charming and engaging, which will be more memorable to the audience than a shiny presentation.
Know your Venue
Different venues and audiences call for different presentation styles. Keep these variations in mind when preparing. Ask yourself how you can adjust your volume, eye contact, and projection to fit the room size. What about your audience? Both group size and demographics will require tweaking for your presentation.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Once you have your presentation in order, and your delivery style practiced, it is now time to bring in an outside perspective. Ask or bribe a friend or family member, someone you are comfortable with, to listen to your spiel and offer constructive criticism. This will provide you with a good transition from talking in front of the mirror, to talking to human beings. Pay attention to their reaction; notice at what parts they seem distracted, and adjust accordingly. Can’t rope somebody in? Videotaping your presentation and reviewing it yourself is also a good practice.
Be Prepared to Go Off the Cuff
As mentioned before, you must outshine your PowerPoint. Prepare for the possibility that your venue will have technical problems, such as someone forgetting the power cable . If you know your topic inside and out, you should be able to still give the full presentation without technology, and keep the attention of the audience. Being able to give your presentation smoothly without all the technology to back you up will make you look like a rock star.
Open up for Questions at the End
Remember to set aside time for questions and interaction after your presentation. If you are given 30 minutes to talk, instead of talking for the full half hour, shoot for 25 minutes and leave the last five for Q&A. If you are the one talking, you are presenting yourself as an expert on your topic, be sure to research your topic as if this is true. Do not feel threatened by challenging questions, it is okay to respond with, “That is a great question! I will check on that with my team and get back to you.” Be sure sure to get their information after the presentation and follow up.
Do you know of any other helpful tips to enhance a presentation? What about common mistakes to avoid? Comment below and share your presentation skills with the world!