Are You Ready to Deliver a Great Presentation?

What does it take to make your presentation memorable and impactful?   

1. Organizing Your Message

The easiest and simplest way to organize your presentation is:

  • Opening
  • Body
  • Call to Action

A. The Opening

Make a positive first impression. Be prepared, be confident, and be professional. Greet the audience as you would a group of friends.

Get their attention. Some people will be on their cell phones, others will be talking with the person sitting beside them.

Tips for a great start.

  • Eye contact—Start by making solid eye contact with the audience. All eyes on me!
  • Original—Begin with something that is original, intriguing, and creative. Ask a question that directly engages the audience. How would you… Imaging you are about to…
  • Benefits—Explain what the audience will gain. After my presentation, you will be able to…
  • Overview—Provide a simple roadmap. “I will cover three points.”

B. The Body

This includes your big ideas and the supporting details needed to achieve your goals.

Offer some fresh ideas and insights that will interest the audience.

Organize your ideas by using one of these simple structures:

  • Problem---and---Solution
  • Question---and---Answer
  • Opportunity---and---Plan

The clearer your framework, the easier it is for the audience to follow.

In some presentations, speakers don’t spend any time discussing the problem or opportunity, rather they immediately jump into their recommendations. I am going to discuss five actions you can take to be a better leader.  

Provide evidence to back up your claims and recommendations.

Explain the benefits of your proposals. Increased productivity? Fewer conflicts? Better meetings? Reduced turnover?

Tips for making your message clear and memorable.

  • Variety—Use a variety of techniques (data, facts, statistics, observations, case studies, surveys, results from pilot programs, and testimonials) to explain and support your ideas.
  • Tell stories—The best stories are easy to follow and have a clear message. Personal stories are golden.
  • Feelings—Connect with the audience’s feelings about the current situation and how they will feel when conditions improve.
  • Visual aids—Pictures and a few words (10-to-12 max) are most effective. Include just one major idea per slide. Use a font size of 32 or larger.
  • Use lists—They make it easy for the audience to follow.   

Make sure your big ideas stand out. Don’t overwhelm the audience with too much detail. This is a common problem in many presentations. Put an orange vest around your big ideas so they stand out.

C. The Call to Action

What do you want the audience to know or do?

Tips for a strong call to action.

  • Keep it simple.
  • Use a catchy phrase that makes your key point easy to remember.
  • Give the audience a specific action item.

End with the positive improvements the audience will achieve.

2. Delivering Your Message

If you are fully committed to your ideas, you will have passion and conviction in your delivery.

If you’re not passionate about your ideas, the audience won’t be interested.

Tips to improve your delivery. 

  • Eye contact—Mentally divide the room into several sections. Make eye contact with one person until you complete your sentence. Then move on and connect with a person in another part of the room.
  • Gestures—Stand perfectly still, then gesture. Increase the effect of your gestures by making them bigger and holding them for several seconds before releasing them.
  • Volume—Alternate your volume. No one likes a monotone voice. Increase your volume or use inflection to emphasize certain points.
  • Pause—Give the audience a chance to digest and assimilate what you have said. Pauses also help build suspense for what you are about to say.
  • Transitions—Let the audience know when you are moving on to a new point.
  • Signal words—No matter how great your delivery, people’s attention does wander. You can use signal phrases that motivate the audience to pay attention: “This next point is very important.” “If you don’t remember anything else, remember this…”

Finally, practice your delivery. Actors, singers, and athletes all spend many hours practicing before giving a live performance. For example, Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor rehearsed her extraordinarily successful TED talk 200 times before presenting it. Now that’s preparation!

You are ready to deliver a great presentation if…

  1. Your message is organized and easy to follow.
  2. Your big idea is compelling, relevant, and supported with solid data.
  3. You have practiced your presentation at least five times.
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