Presentation Survival Tips
Streamline your registration. Have name badges and information packets ready ahead of time, but keep a supply of blanks on hand for last minute participants. Keep a good supply of pens and markers on hand. (Keep a hidden stash, too.)
If your meeting is a small group, help participants become acquainted by supplying name badges with the names printed in large, readable type.
Set up a separate table for handouts on the side of the room or near the entrance. Stock this table with extra materials, pencils, and note paper.
Hand-outs distributed at the beginning of your speech should be relevant to what you're presenting at the moment. Don't distribute hand-outs until the end of the meeting. You don't want the audience distracted by rustling papers, and you don't want them to read ahead and tune out.
Don't settle for less - all these factors can affect your presentation. Take a good look at the site before you book it to make sure it reflects your company's values. Is it clean? Tidy? Insulated from noise? Does the ventilation work? Is the staff helpful and courteous?
Know thyself - body language and tone of voice constitute 93% of your credibility. Practice speaking in front of a mirror or have someone videotape you. Then be objective. Would you be interested in you? Practice until you are the master of your posture and your speech.
A good highway billboard has no more than six words. Present one idea on each visual, and choose your words carefully. It is easier to read short bullet points than long lines of text.
Motivate! End your presentation with a call to action. Tell your audience exactly what they can do in response to your speech. You'll make sure that they understand what you are trying to communicate, and leave them feeling in control.
Introducing… Find out who will introduce you. To assure yourself an accurate and effective introduction, script it yourself. Contact that person at least two days before your talk and give him or her the introduction. This will help your presentation go smoothly from start to finish.
Give the speaker prestige with powerful visuals! Color visuals increase willingness to read by up to 80%; understanding by as much as 73%; motivation & participation up to 80%.
If you feed them, they will come. When your meeting is scheduled near a meal time, offer neatly, easily-eaten snacks and beverages as a courtesy to participants.
There are two types of meetings: informational and decision making. Eye contact between speakers and audience is the key to communication. Forward-facing rows are best used for informational meetings. For decision making, set up the room so that decision makers face each other.
Arrive early-your guests might be waiting! Be there at least a half hour before the meeting to make sure that everything is set up the way it should be, and that all equipment is plugged in, turned on and functioning properly. Good, clear signs to direct people to meeting rooms, restrooms, coatrooms, and information areas are also helpful!
DO NOT Disturb. Make sure that you and only you have control of the lighting during the meeting. Once your lights are set up, place "Do Not Disturb" signs over the light switches so no one will wreck the mood by accidentally disturbing a painstakingly exact lighting set-up. Avoid "Oops! Too Bright!"
Tell them what to expect. Tell the meeting attendees specifically what they will learn in the course of the meeting and how they will be able to apply their new knowledge. Examples: "At the end of this session, you will know our company's goals for the next year, and how we plan to meet them," or "At the end of this seminar, you will know how to apply the ten principles of superior customer service." Clear goals keep attendees focused on their own responsibilities as active participants.
Take control! If your meeting is small but your room is large, either remove extra chairs to keep the audience closer to the speaker, or ask everyone to move up to the front rows.
Evaluate, Evaluate, EVALUATE! Survey every participant to make sure that you addressed your topic comprehensively and understandably. Ask everyone to look at the survey form at the start of the meeting so they will know what to look for. Draw up an action plan to resolve any issues revealed in the surveys.
A good presentation will do four things: inform, entertain, touch the emotions, and move to action. Look for ways to do all four.
Examine your speech. Replace vague or wordy expressions with direct ones. Don't be out to impress, you're there to communicate.
Keep an idea file. Clip relevant articles and quotations to use when the time is right. Collect anecdotes about yourself and others to illustrate your point.
Less is more. Your audience can only take in so much, so limit your main points. Examples: "The three most important principles of service;" "Five ways to increase sales." Seven main points is roughly the maximum your audience can take in and fully retain.
Take a deep breath. Relax! Don't huddle over the lectern. If you are standing behind one, stand up tall. Move around. Use gestures for emphasis. Remember, how you say something is as important as what you have to say.
Keep eye contact. Use note cards instead of a completely scripted speech, so that you can look up and keep eye contact with your audience, and avoid the urge to READ a presentation. Your audience response will be thanks enough for sticking your neck out!
Control the setting! If you are presenting in a rectangular room, set up your chairs to face the long wall, not the short one. This brings more people closer to you. Arrange the chairs in a semi-circle for better visibility. When you set up seating, doors and windows should be behind the audience to minimize distractions.
Penmanship counts! When using flip charts, make sure that your handwriting is large and your spelling is accurate, or else have an assistant write for you.
Be prepared. Know all your equipment and be ready for mishaps.
Be dramatic. Use bold words and unusual statistics. Your presentation should be filled with simple, hard hitting statements to keep your audience intrigued. Laughter never hurts either!
Supplement your information with captivating, clear visuals. It boosts retention through the roof.
Your ideas count! Please share your ideas or stories with me for future publication.
© 2004 Visual Horizons
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