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Successful Presentations - Top 10 Tips

freelancesupermarket.com newsroom

RSS 24 February 2009
Whether you're presenting a report to your boss and colleagues or simply giving a toast at your best friend's wedding, speaking in front of a crowd of people can be a difficult proposition. Here are 10 top tips from expert presenter Gary Gorman.

Tip No.1 : Consider what you want to say

When given the opportunity to pitch a new idea or product, we tend to naturally assume that a 'presentation' will be the best method. But is it? Sometimes, perhaps a demonstration, free trial, brainstorming session, outlet visit, or even a succinct, benefits-led letter (with, of course, a follow-up phone call) may be more appropriate. If you are sure that a 'formal' (but it doesn't have to be that formal) presentation will be the most successful method then on we go with tip no.2.

Tip No.2 : Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

Preparation is vital for success. Do you know how many will be in the audience? Do you have enough seats, hard copies, samples etc. for everyone? What is their current level of knowledge? How will you get their attention? How will you manage questions, as you go along or at the end? Where will you stand? Can you arrange a rehearsal at the venue? As the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) puts it "Professionals practice. Amateurs don't feel the need."

Tip No.3 : Be yourself

An audience can quickly see through falseness and insincerity, so always be yourself. You may wish to be an exaggerated version of yourself...more demonstrative, louder, more gregarious, but you are ultimately still being yourself rather than someone you think you should be. Being someone you are not is incredibly draining, and you need to keep all your energy to deliver an inspiring, engaging and enlightening presentation.

Tip No.4: Involve the audience

A successful presentation is two-way -you presenting with an audience not at an audience. In your preparation, look at areas where you could get audience participation, maybe plan to ask them a question or get them involved in a product demonstration. An audience's attention span is very short -something between thirty seconds and two minutes is not untypical- so always look for ways to grab and maintain their attention.

Tip No 5: Less is more

Aim to communicate a maximum of four key messages successfully, rather than several poorly. Your preparation and delivery will benefit from having fewer key messages, and your audience will more easily grasp your critical themes and ideas. If you have to communicate more than four messages, perhaps consider doing two separate presentations or find another way of getting these other messages across (perhaps via. a leave piece, handout or e-mail).

Tip No 6 : Use notes sparingly

After thorough rehearsal, the need for highly detailed notes should be removed. However there may be a need sometimes to have the 'security blanket' of a few key notes, perhaps highlighted on small prompt cards. The key thing here to remember is that notes should be used to support the presentation and not replace it or get in the way of you delivering with impact.

Tip No 7 : YOU are the presentation

The best presentation tool you have is not your slides or props but YOU .....the way you engage the audience, how you make and maintain eye contact with them, your enthusiasm, the volume and pitch of your voice, your use of silence, the depth of your listening skills. Never forget...YOU are the presentation.

Tip no 8 : Get passionate

How can you expect your audience to be inspired enough to change or take an action, if you are not passionate, enthusiastic and bursting with energy about your subject? Get passionate with them!!

Tip No 9: Apply the 48 hour rule

Make it a preparation goal to collate all the presentation material, slides, handouts etc. at least 48 hours before the presentation time. Then spend the remaining 48 hours rehearsing and concentrating on how you are going to present rather than what you are going to present...remember you are the presentation not your material.

And lastly....

Tip No 10 : Enjoy the experience

By following all the above tips you should be in a highly confident and positive frame of mind. This will naturally come across to your audience, who will enjoy being engaged, informed and seeing you succeed.

Having completed your presentation, be prepared to take the plaudits and look forward to the next occasion you can demonstrate your knowledge of the top 10 tips for successful presentations.

© 2009 All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Image: HDTV Projector Beam by RVWithTito

Gary Gorman
24th February 2009

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