People will remember more about how you said something than the actual words that you spoke so it is crucial that your delivery is the best it can be. Once again there are techniques that you can use to increase the focus of the audience and thus increase how much of what you say they remember.
By this stage if you’ve done everything above you should be quietly confident that you know what you’re going to be talking about which gives you confidence and so you can relax and enjoy the experience. I accept that “enjoy” may not be the first thought in your mind, but if you can convince yourself that you might enjoy the experience then the likelihood is that you will.
The brain sees things like this as a self-fulfilling prophecy, and whatever you think will be the outcome is more than likely how it will turn out – so tell yourself you ARE going to enjoy it as you’ve worked very hard to prepare thoroughly.
Remember, you are going to tell them something that it is in their interest to hear, and that they will benefit from your presentation.
The audience wants you to succeed, for them there is nothing worse than listening to a presenter die on their feet – it’s embarrassing. They would rather you succeed; it makes their life so much easier!
The single most important thing to be is enthusiastic – how can you expect to carry an audience with you if you are not displaying energy and passion for the subject. This doesn’t mean you have to try to become something you’re not, because the audience will see you as phoney if you do. It means taking your natural style, and adding authority and presence through your tone and manner (body language).
The trick is to engage with the audience early – in the first 60 seconds preferably – get them on your side and keep them there. This is where your pithy (what’s in it for you statement / comment / challenge) comes in. It must be something that captures their imagination, is credible and offers them hope.
Another part of engaging with them is to remove barriers – get out from behind the lectern or desk. This means you can move around more, which in turn means you can have more eye contact, use body language to greatest effect and make it easier for the audience to focus on you. Your slides or props are just that – there to support you, not the other way around.
When speaking to a massed audience it is very important to use you voice carefully. You need to make sure that your voice can be heard at the back of the auditorium (sound gets muffled when a room is full of people).
Equally you need to talk more slowly than you would in everyday speech. This is to allow people time to absorb and think about what you have said.
Use pauses often. They allow people to absorb what you’ve said. Pause after saying anything especially important – this not only allows the audience time to absorb and consider what you’ve said but the pause itself tells them that what you just said is something they should pay particular attention to – and they will – if you give them the opportunity. Whilst paused make strong eye contact with as many people as possible – let them acknowledge your eye contact, then move on to more of the audience – this is very powerful!
As this is the single most important section of the preparation and the amount of time you invest here will be re-paid ten-fold. You need to rehearse the presentation from end to end at least 4-6 times, more if you can! Why, well, once you have done it this many times you will know the material so well that you will be less reliant on your notes and need to think less about what you say and more about how you say it.
Make the rehearsal as realistic as possible – deliver the presentation in front of friends or family or look at yourself in a mirror(yes it will feel embarrassing, but you can iron out what sounds good and what doesn’t and change phrases that don’t sound quite right). You will also see those idiosyncrasies that you have – hands in pocket, going “um” a lot, shuffling or pacing and you can then work on reducing them – I didn’t say getting rid of them altogether, just get them under control.
Once you’ve done the presentation in front of friend, family or a mirror doing it in front of a live audience is relatively straightforward – honestly!
We can all present well if we make sure we follow a few basic principles.
- Be clear what it is you want the audience to do as a result of listening to you. Make sure you tell them what your purpose is early on.
- Provide appropriate detail, in the form of evidences and proofs, to convince them that this course of action is to their advantage.
- Engage with the audience. Make a personal connection with them, no matter how numerous they are.
Most important of all is to rehearse the presentation sufficiently so that you know the material so well you can concentrate on how you engage the audience, and are not just thinking about what you have to say. How many rehearsals this is depends on you, but the acknowledged industry thinking is that this will be between 5-8 times for the first time you present the material and 3-5 thereafter.
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