The Ten Commandments to Presenting Professionally

Implementing the 10 commandments below will enable you to make nervous tension work for you and not against you!

It is natural (indeed instinctive and good) to feel some tension and excitement before making a presentation. This is the so called “fight or flight” response.

Control this and your mind will be sharper and more focused on the subject matter and you will perform better.

Follow the Ten Commandments of Presenting (according to The Bid Coach) and you will significantly improve your chances of delivering a concise, accurate and memorable presentation.

1. Prepare – thoroughly in advance

Ensure that you have considered every probability and mitigated against it. If it can go wrong it will – you need to be able to take any issues in your stride and carry on regardless – the prospect / audience may not even realise you had encountered a problem if you have prepared thoroughly enough. Even if they do see you have had an issue the way in which you overcame it will demonstrate very powerfully what a true professional you are – and will fill them with confidence!

2. Practice, practice, practice!

This is something that you can never do too much of (contrary to popular belief). Some people believe that you can practice too much and take the spontaneity out of your performance. Actually the complete reverse is true! When you know the material very well and are completely confident with it you can deliver it whilst at the same time “listening to” and responding to your audience, making subtle changes to what you say and how you say it (which makes the delivery all the more powerful). You can also concentrate on “the show” to the audience – this enhances the memorability of what you say exponentially (which is a lot!)

3. Have good notes.

Not the full text, just key points – written on nothing bigger than A5 size (postcard size is better). Make sure there is nothing you don’t want the audience to see on the side facing them. The material the notes are written on should look smart.  (Scruffy notes make you look unprofessional).

Number each sheet in case you drop them or they get out of order. Use large writing – so you can easily read them. Highlight key words or phrases in a bright colour.

AND use your own made up shorthand – this can include pictures or single word prompts – anything that means something to you! Put a sheet down once you have finished with it, or put it to the back of your “pack”.

4. Have a glass of water within reach

Take a sip if things feel out of control. Even if they don’t take a sip periodically anyway – this allows you to re-set yourself and to look at your audience to gauge how they are responding to you.

5. Slow deep breaths – before you stand up, or get into the sight of the audience

This helps you to get focused and slow your heart rate down (the excitement could be making it race). It also gives you time to think about the opening remarks of your presentation and to get these thoughts into your head.

6. Pause – for 3 to 5 seconds before you start to speak

This might feel like a long time to you, but it is nothing to the audience. It gives them time to settle down and get ready to start listening to you. Use the pause to gather your thoughts and to control your nerves. Think something positive about yourself.

During the pause make eye contact with as many people in the audience as possible. Make sure to caste your eyes across the entire room. Do not just scan the audience; make deliberate eye contact with them.

6. a. Pause – frequently during the presentation

Take that sip of water! The pause allows the audience to absorb what you have presented recently – there are limits to how much information an audience can comprehend so make it easy for them by using the pause to enable them to consider your most recent points

Remember, the only person who knows you might have lost your train of thought is you (the audience has no idea!)

7. Remove distractions.

Empty your pockets of lose change, keys etc. TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONE

8. Keep control of yourself.

Let your arms and hands be passive, but also use them positively when you want to emphasise a point. You can rest them the podium if you are presenting from one, but do not grip this tightly, or hold it all of the time. DO NOT PUT YOUR HANDS IN YOUR POCKETS – EXCEPT FOR A SPECIFIC EFFECT!

9. Check the equipment works

Check every piece of equipment twice. Pay particular attention to audio – sound will travel better when the room is empty than when it is filled by your audience. Equally you don’t want to deafen them. In a large room check all areas of the room can hear and see you OK

10. Have a backup.

A disc, or memory stick (if using electronic material) or acetates (old fashioned) and be prepared to deliver the presentation without any props at all. This can be very daunting if the subject matter requires a lot of visuals!

In summary:

1. Use a clear and distinctive speaking voice.

2. Remember non-verbal signals communicate more than words.

3. Project confidence.

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Seven Ways to make (or break) your presentation

The key to engaging, and thus persuading, your audience is authenticity. This means bringing your true self to the fore. If you try to be something you are not your audience will see straight through you

There are seven key areas you can utilize when trying to ensure you present as your real self. Look at each briefly in turn and evaluate what effect they can have – for better or for worse!

1) Voice. Don’t try to be someone you’re not – don’t try to put on the voice of another, or to mimic a style you think the audience expects. Use the voice you were given, it’s the one with the most credibility.

2) Content. People know when you’re saying things you really don’t believe, or saying things in a way that is contrary to who you are. If you have to say something that makes you uncomfortable, find a way to re-frame it in terms you can assert with confidence and integrity.

3) Facial expression. Forced smiles and other forms of feigned sincerity and enthusiasm are easily detected by the audience. They’re a form of dishonesty and throw into question everything you’re saying. Be genuine and be sincere.

4) Attire. Don’t dress in clothes of a style that aren’t what you normally wear. If you never normally wear a suit and tie then wearing one to present in is going to make you feel as though you’re in a straight jacket. Equally dressing down from a suit to a polo shirt and chino’s can have the same effect on you. Dress as who you are, and what you feel comfortable in. For formal presentations It’s always better to be one point over than one point under what the audience is wearing.

5) Body language. Don’t try to gesticulate in a style that is significantly different to your natural style. No gesticulation and exaggerated gesticulation are extremes to be avoided. Work on using some gesticulations, but make sure you feel comfortable in doing them, and make sure they are appropriate for the audience and the subject matter.

6) Eye contact. When you look at others do you communicate connection and warmth or is it dodgy hit and run style? Make eye contact that is direct and prolonged enough to say, I see you and I’m paying attention to you.

7) Passion. You are more impactful when you’re passionate about your subject, but you don’t have to effuse to show passion. It can be contained in the quality of our content, the cool confidence of our delivery, or the simmering facial expressions.

The bottom line is: Be yourself. Everyone else is taken

Call us now on 01963 240555 or email win@thebidcoach.com