Learning how to give an interesting and top-notch presentation is a skill that is acquired through practice. The key to presentations is that it isn’t always what you say. Sometimes it is how you say it. If you don’t believe it, then try a little experiment with yourself. Turn your television on but mute the sound. Flip through the channels and watch shows, movies and commercials without the sound. While you don’t know exactly what is happening without the sound, you do get a perspective from some of the scenes that you can see but not hear.
Here’s a little more reinforcement of the point. You walk into class one day and your professor doesn’t say anything but he starts a DVD that is flashing still photos on the screen one at a time. The first photo is that of a German guard standing watch over a humongous pile of emaciated bodies. The next photo is that of a mass grave filled with more emaciated bodies. After going through about 15 of these photos, the professor walks over to the TV and switches it off. Does he have your attention? Did he have your attention from the time that the first photo flashed on the screen?
Top-notch presentations and top-notch presenters are those that are able to keep their audience’s attention. A great way to keep your audience focused and also to reinforce your points is to use visual aids. Visual aids can be in the forms of photos, handouts, maps, charts, graphs, videos, or DVDs. You do not need to have a visual aid for every single point, but be sure to spread them out throughout your presentation at appropriate intervals.
Another great way to present is by getting your audience involved. Interacting with your audience keeps things fresh and moving. And depending on how you interact with them it keeps your presentation from being a monologue since it won’t only be of you talking, talking and talking. One way that you can interact with your audience is by asking questions of them:
“How many of you here have…?”
“Has anyone here…?”
Another way you can interact with your audience is by having them become part of an example. You’ve seen a magician’s act at least once in your life, right? For certain tricks the magician always asks for a volunteer from the audience. You can do the same thing with your audience, without doing magic tricks of course. Ask for someone to help you prove a point by doing whatever it is that you need them to do.
Handouts and games are a couple of other options to getting your audience involved and interacting with them.
The most important aspect of giving a top-notch presentation is to be prepared. Preparation happens before the presentation ever begins. Prepare an outline or speaking points for you to follow along during your presentation. Do not write your presentation out in complete sentences and then try to memorize it or read it word for word.
Speaking points or bullet points are memory prompts that will allow you to move from one speaking point to another with a smooth transition. Even if you have visual aids like PowerPoint slides or transparencies, have a copy of your speaking points written or typed out on a piece of paper or on index cards.
Another way to prepare for your presentation is to practice it as if you are really giving it to an audience. Once you have your presentation prepared stand in front of a mirror and practice. Give your presentation as if you are speaking to your audience. Saying it out loud will help you to refine and edit your presentation where necessary. You should practice giving your presentation over and over again until you feel very comfortable with it.
So the key to giving a top-notch presentation is to:
1. Be creative
2. Be prepared
3. Use visuals
4. Interact with your audience