Delivering a fantastic presentation
In my last blog we explored how to design a fantastic presentation. In this blog, we are going to focus on delivering the Presentation.
If you are going to project your voice into the whole room this requires you to make good use of your body and breath. Stand – keeping your back and neck straight, keep your legs a foot apart (hip distance), ensuring your knees are not locked tight. Keep your arms loose at the side. Standing like this should be comfortable and will present to the audience a relaxed looking person. Breathe deeply into your back and abdomen. Imagine a point at the back of the room and your breath reaching it. Take your voice to the same place as that breath, and people at the back of the room will be able to hear you without the need to shout.
Avoid leaning heavily on lecterns or desks as this will change your posture from the relaxed position required for projecting your voice. There is also the risk of the furniture moving under your weight!
If you are using a microphone, these tips will still be useful as they will help you to relax.
If you need to make some movements to use cue cards, or visual aids, this is ok. The small movements that you would normally make when talking to people to get a point across are also fine. However, it is important to avoid any movements that could distract your audience from what you’re saying, e.g. waving your arms around, striding up and down, scratching your head. You may not be aware that you are doing this, which is why it’s important to ask for feedback from others (or video yourself and watch it back).
There are different views about how to use eye contact, here are a few ideas:
Select a point at the back of the room which is just above the heads of the audience and focus your vision there.
Sweep your vision gradually across the audience as you speak.
Find a couple of receptive faces, ideally at opposite sides in the audience – find people who are nodding as you speak – and move your vision between these faces.
Whichever approach you adopt, avoid constantly looking down at your notes. The audience should feel like they are part of the presentation, so you need to look in their direction in order to build rapport with them.
Choose the method that you feel comfortable with. However, if you are confident enough to look at the audience, you’ll also be able to spot their non-verbal cues, which might help you. For example, you may spot if someone is looking confused and you will be able to explain something again or repeat it or clarify a point. And remember, if you see someone smiling, this will help you to relax more!
I have found that nothing substitutes practice in helping me to gain confidence in my speaking abilities. If you practise, you will gain confident and you will also learn the flexibility you can develop in your delivery.
If you have any friends in the audience, ask them to give you some feedback about your presentation. They may also give you some general or specific hints as to how they think you could have improved it. You could use this information to improve your presentation skills.
And finally, remember practice makes perfect, so once you’ve done one presentation you’re on track for many more.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article and would like to find out more, watch out for my upcoming blog on how to deliver an effective presentation. Or better still, why not join us at our presentation skills workshop in September?
For more information contact Marie O’Donnell at Marie@professional-futures.com.