The Perfect Presentation: Engagement Essentials Week Three
Hopefully, you read my last blog about confident public speaking (if you haven’t yet, find it here) – in which I shared some of my favourite nerve-busting tips.
Now you’ve found the confidence to speak in public, it’s time to structure your content for the perfect presentation!
While we know it’s a privilege to be asked to speak, understanding just what to say can be a minefield. You probably know a lot about your subject, so you might find that narrowing it down to the most important points, then fitting everything into a specific time slot, is a real challenge.
Not to mention the need to be interesting and relatable to an audience! Two key features of the perfect presentation.
If you’re worrying about what to say and how to say it, the good news is that planning the prefect presentation can actually be an enjoyable task. You’ve got some fantastic information to share, after all – now all you have to do is add a bit of structure.
So let’s get planning.
Who Do You Think You’re Talking To?
Before you begin, take some time to research your audience.
Who are they, and what are they likely to be most interested in? What kind of content could you include to really fire them up?
Try to establish some common ground between you and your audience, and then weave this into your presentation. For example, you could include some references to a current ‘hot’ news issue, or a popular talking point that relates back to your subject.
In The Beginning …
If you think about your favourite book or film, you’ll notice that it has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
So does every good presentation!
Think about opening yours with a human interest story, or a personal anecdote that shares something about yourself, to reel your audience in right from the start. Don’t forget to welcome them, and thank them for coming.
(I mentioned in my previous blog post to perhaps stay away from beginning with a joke, as everybody has a different sense of humour and you may find it hard to strike the right note).
Then, establish your credibility. Who are you, and why are you qualified to talk about this particular subject? What is the audience hoping to learn from you? Give them an overview of your presentation content, so they know what to expect.
A strong introduction will show your audience that you are in control of your presentation. Essentially, you are giving them permission to relax and enjoy it.
How to Structure Your Content
Timing is essential. The perfect presentation is delivered within the prescribed tie-frame and provides the audience with the information they have come to receive. You don’t want to look into the audience and notice them playing with their phones, yawning or shifting in their seats!
This means you will need to structure your content according to the presentation time allowed. For example, if you are speaking for up to half an hour, you will probably have time for 2-3 major points. Include 4-5 points for a 45-minute presentation, and if you are speaking for up to an hour you could potentially plan for 7.
The trick to the perfect presentation is to make sure you don’t overload your audience with too much information. Try to speak clearly and naturally, and include stories, statistics and anecdotes with each point, to help them stick in people’s minds.
The Best Presentation Tools
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to use PowerPoint! Although slides can help with your presentation structure, using too many of them can be distracting, particularly if they are covered in pictures and illustrations.
So if you plan to use slides, keep them simple, clear and to-the-point.
Flipcharts can also be a handy visual aid, particularly for audience question-and-answer sessions. You could even ask for a volunteer to come and help you jot down some ideas.
But while this may sound surprising, keep in mind that the very best presentation tool in your possession is…YOU! So try combining your physicality, your voice and your personality to really compel your audience – this is how the very best presenters do it.
After all, when you think back to the presentations you’ve enjoyed the most, or those you’ve found the most informative, it probably wasn’t the design of the PowerPoint slides that captivated you.
Closing Your Presentation
Remind the audience of what you’ve just told them, by finishing with a short summary of your key points.
Include a specific Call To Action – for example, what should they do to find out more about your subject, or how you could help them in future?
Finally, thank your audience for their time and attention…
…and you’re done!
My final Engagement Essentials blog post will focus on that all-important, 60-second pitch – something I like to refer to as a Technicolour Intro!
Until then, please feel free to post any public speaking-related questions below. It’s a subject that’s close to my heart, so I’m always happy to talk about it in more detail.