Secrets of Successful Presentations

Does the thought of speaking in front of others send you running in the opposite direction? Youâ??re not alone. Many people avoid public speaking at all costs â?" and there is a cost. Public speaking is one of the quickest, most efficient ways to market yourself, your message, business, or cause. Those who are willing to make presentations immediately stand out from the majority who are not. Whether itâ??s an audience of five people or 500, itâ??s worth it to invest in your skills.

After coaching hundreds of clients in presentation skills, Iâ??m convinced that anyone can improve and gain confidence by following a few simple techniques:

Know Your Audience. Most presentations fail because the speaker never took the time to find out anything about his audience. Knowing your audience means finding out as much information as possible in advance so that you can successfully match your message to their interests and needs. Helpful information includes: gender breakdown, average age, and their current or past experience with your topic. If itâ??s not possible to learn your audience in advance, then at the very least, arrive early and spend a few minutes meeting people. Or, begin your presentation by asking some general questions like, â??Who has experience withâ?¦?â?? This also helps to calms nerves as you are taking the focus off you, and putting it on your audience where it belongs.

Forget Memorizing. One of the biggest fears Iâ??ve heard from my clients is that theyâ??ll freeze up and forget what comes next. That can happen if you try to memorize your entire speech. All it takes is forgetting one word to trip you up. Instead, only memorize the opening and closing. Looking directly at your audience when you start and finish makes a strong, positive impression. For the middle section, itâ??s fine to glance at note cards with bullet points, or refer to your PowerPoint presentation to jog your memory. Do not, however, write out your whole speech word for word! Youâ??ll be tempted to read it instead of connecting with your audience.

Open with a Bang. Itâ??s important to grab attention immediately. A good opening sparks interests, sets expectations, previews whatâ??s to come, and offers benefits. There are several ways to start: ask a question, tell a story, humor (careful with this one unless youâ??re naturally funny), quotes, dramatic statistics, or music/video. Give your audience a reason to listen, and build your credibility as the best person to be speaking on this topic.

Make it Memorable. Signposting is a way to help your audience follow and remember what youâ??re saying. Phrases that focus listening are: â??The point is this,â?? and â??The most important thing to remember is.â?? Another strategy is to number your points as in, â??Iâ??ll be offering three ideas, the first one isâ?¦â??

In Closing. Audiences are most likely to remember the last thing they hear. A strong closing should be memorized and review your main points. Motivate the audience to do something â?" take an action, ask a question, have an emotional response, or think differently. Make it clear what it is youâ??re asking them to do (and if you donâ??t know, re-think the purpose of your speech).

Calming Nervousness. Most nerves are caused when the speaker focuses on himself instead of the audience. A speaker might think to himself, â??What if I say something stupid?â?? or â??I hope I donâ??t trip.â?? That kind of self-absorption puts up a wall between you and the audience. By shifting your focus to the audience, youâ??ll forget about yourself and start connecting with them. Second, some nervousness is a good thing! Itâ??s an indication that you care what your audience thinks and can serve as a strong motivator to do well. The goal is not to eliminate nerves, but to use that energy in a positive way.

Susan Fee is a licensed counselor, communications expert, and author of Positive First Impressions: 83 Ways to Establish Confidence, Competence, and Trust (available through her Web site at http://www.susanfee.com). She specializes in coaching individuals in making successful presentations.

In The News:

DI presentation | News, Sports, Jobs  Morning Journal News
AI Helps Jazz Up Presentations  Wall Street Journal
ACA Chimes In On NPR '5G Plus Plan' Presentation  Radio & Television Business Report

Secrets of Successful Presentations

Does the thought of speaking in front of others send... Read More

The Missing Link in Presentation Skills Training

Imagine you are the most amazing figure skater who ever... Read More

If You Want Business - Throw a Seminar!

Why is throwing a seminar good for business?If you want... Read More

Practice Makes Perfect ? 7 Tips for Making the Most of Your Presentation Practice

Believe it or not, preparation is a better determinant of... Read More

Rise Above Cattiness

Cattiness is something no one ever wants to be accused... Read More

Four Different Ways People Process Your Information

There are four different ways that audience members assimilate information.... Read More

Facilitating Panel Discussions

A client recently called to say she was going to... Read More

Tips to Energize Your Presentations

"There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be... Read More

PowerPoint Presentations: How to Use This Tool More Effectively

Many of us use PowerPoint to convey a message to... Read More

Eight Success Tips for Your First Trade Show Booth

Exhibiting in a trade show can involve a major investment... Read More

A Discussion about Facilitation Skills

Interview with Julia Apple-Smith, Manager of Employee Development at Sauer-Danfoss... Read More

Choosing a Presentation Remote Control

If you deliver electronic presentations using PowerPoint or other programs,... Read More

The Presentation After the Presentation

Allowing the audience to ask questions after your presentation is... Read More

27 Tips For An Effective Presentation

So you're not a professional speaker. That's no excuse for... Read More

Dump Your Speeches For Leadership Talks

The CEO of a worldwide business asked me to help... Read More

Is Now Really the Time to Hire a Professional Speaker?

Since the events of September 11th and the economy slipping... Read More

Your Unique Point of View

I had a chance to go to one of those... Read More

Data Visualization Flash Charts: Information in a Flash

Flash chart, flash map, flash graph may be mistaken for... Read More

Be Bold, Branded, and Bespoke - Your Customers Want You to Choose

I had been working on a logo idea for several... Read More

1,000,001 Reasons To Connect With Your Audience

Eye contact is mandatory when giving a public presentation.The goal... Read More

Cell Phone Dos And Dont During A Meeting

What would we do without our cell phones? Wow, there's... Read More

Why You Need a Lesson Plan

LESSON PLAN DEVELOPMENT: Lesson plans, believe it or not, are... Read More

Networking: How to Network Within Your Organisation

Although there are any number of different networking groups and... Read More

How to Attract New Business Like George W. Bush Wins Elections

THE LITTLE-KNOWN SPEECHWRITING SECRETS THAT WON GEORGE W. BUSH THE... Read More

Give Your Audience Something to Talk About

There is an old saying: "The first thing to do... Read More