Above all know your audience and match what you say to their needs. Creating your presentation with your audience in mind, will assure that your audience will follow you. If your presentation doesn't appeal to your audience - no matter how well you have developed your presentation - your presentation will fall on deaf ears. This leads us to the next rule: Know your material thoroughly. Your material needs to be second nature to you. Practice and rehearse your presentation with friends, in front of a mirror, and with colleagues. If you are speaking in a second language, make sure that you record yourself and listen a number of times before going to practice with a native speaker (if possible).
Remember that you are an actor when presenting. Make sure that not only your physical appearance is appropriate to the occasion, but also the tone you use is well chosen. If your topic is serious, be solemn. However, it's always a good idea to begin your presentation with an ice-breaker. Don't worry about making friends, rather lead the audience through your materials in a calm and relaxed manner. Speak slowly and clearly, and remember to address everyone in the audience - even the person the farthest away from you.
To achieve the above goals follow these tips when giving your presentation:
- Speak with conviction. Believe what you are saying and you will persuade your audience.
- Do not read from notes. Referring to notes is fine, but do so only briefly.
- Maintain eye contact with your audience. Making direct eye contact with individuals will help them feel as if they are participating in your presentation.
- Bring handouts. Don't just use a PowerPoint presentation. Provide audience members with handouts of the most important materials so they can keep your most important take always in mind.
- Know when to stop. This cannot be underestimated. You need to make your case, but continuing for too long will only ensure that the audience forgets what you have said.
audience - people watching a presentation of some kind
with someone in mind - thinking about a person
to appeal to someone - to speak to someone's interests
to fall on deaf ears - to not be heard
thoroughly - completely, entirely
to be second nature - to do something naturally, with little effort
to rehearse - to practice, repeat a number of times
to record yourself - to make an audio or video recording of yourself
appropriate - in the right place, in good taste
tone - the feeling of a presentation (i.e. funny, serious, etc.)
ice-breaker - a short story or joke to put everyone at ease before you begin
to address someone - to speak to someone
conviction - with belief
to persuade - to convince someone
to refer to notes - to look at your notes while speaking
to maintain eye contact - to look someone in the eyes
handout - sheets of paper with information presented
to make your case - to state information relating to your position
Check your understanding with this follow-up quiz.
By Kenneth Beare, About.com Guide