Why bother giving a good presentation? First impressions matter! You have something to share and delivery of that message is crucial to how it’ll be received. Whether a quick, one-minute “what I do” or a 20-minute research report, practice helps you sort out what you’ve done and understand it better.
One key thing to remember when outlining your presentation is that oral communication is different than written communication. You want to speak to your audience, not read to them. It’s beneficial to write out your speech, but since that is not how you’d naturally speak, this could cause more anxiety if you struggle to remember what to say without notecards.
Here are five tips for giving a great presentation, beyond maintaining eye contact:
Rough Drafts. Before writing out a script, practice presenting a rough draft to a friend. Think of your presentation as a story that you learn to share from memory. If you can use slides, then you’ve got a way to prompt your memory of specific points of your story.
Visual Communication. When it comes to slides, think visually: pictures, graphs and infographics. Avoid using slides like notecards. If you want to show an online video, attempt to embed the link into the slide so it plays from there rather than having to pull it up on a web browser. *FYI: YouTube settings recently defaulted to auto play the next video. Uncheck this setting or make sure you exit out to avoid interruption.
Third time’s the charm. Set the stage. Tell your audience what you’re going to be talking about, tell them, and finish recapping what you told them.
The world doesn’t revolve around you. Be sensitive to your audience. Why should this presentation matter to them? The same presentation may need to be adjusted for a different audience. Familiarize yourself with who will be there.
Handouts. If you’ve brought something to pass out to the audience, wait until the end if possible. The distraction of distributing a handout draws your audience’s attention away from you. If it is necessary to provide the handout before you finish speaking, do so after your brief introduction and help hand out the materials by rows rather than one person at a time.
All is said and done, so what now? Don’t just try to impress your audience with your presentation skills and outfit. Your ultimate goal should be to impress upon them the value of the messages in your presentation. Include a call to action of what your audience can do with this information. Bring your business cards and include your contact information on your last slide for follow-up.
– Kevin Loder is an account executive with the Portfolio Reviews team. He plans to complete an internship in Rio de Janeiro this summer, and return after graduation to volunteer with the 2016 Rio Olympics. He is likely to pursue a communications career in Higher Ed, either on a campus or with a national organization supporting student success. Feel welcome to follow Kevin on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.