Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective, Part 7
Welcome to the seventh part of this new “42 things” series entitled ‘Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective’ – you can catch up from previous posts, starting at the first part Giving Presentations, From An Audience Perspective, Part 1.
You are just about ready to start giving your magnum opus so check yourself and remember to try and relax. There are quite a few things to get through in this article but most of them are quickies.
When you are almost ready to present remember to give yourself a once over. Are your shoes clean? teeth clean? tie straight? zips done up? Buttons done up that need to be done up?
Take a mirror with you – not because you are vain but just in case you have some lunch on your face that you do not know about.
Take Care Of Mobile Phones
Switch your mobile phone off and ask the audience to either switch theirs off or put their devices on silent. As for laptops, PDAs, and any other technical gadgetry which feels like interrupting your time – ask the owner to mute them. There will always be the odd few who either like to be the centre of attention or have a critical need to keep their phone on during a presentation but ensure the audience is aware you are there to present not conduct a symphony.
Sometimes people just forget and may need a nudge.
Is there a fan handy? It can get quite warm up there especially if you are feeling nervous or because the lights are shining down on you. Find a cool spot and have that cool drink handy – you did get a drink?
Do Not Just Read The Slides
Please, please, please – remember this point. We can all read the slides – we have probably read the entire slide the moment it appeared and are now waiting for your pearls of wisdom.
The slides should be supporting what you say not driving what you say and they certainly should not be the only thing you say.
If you simply read what is on the slide then your presentation will head downhill quite quickly. This problem can be made even worse if printed copies of slides are given out before a presentation as the audience will often read ahead and be a few slides ahead of you in anticipation. Boredom will quickly set in if you are simply reading the slides back to us.
Talk Slowly And Breathe
This can be an easy trap to fall into especially when you feel the pressure. I have been guilty of this enough times and now I often ask the audience if I am talking too quickly. Talk slowly and clearly but not too slowly – try and make it sound natural. You may not even realise that you are talking quickly. Nerves can play terrible tricks so try and be conscious of your narration. Breathing also helps you to stay calm.
Pausing grabs the attention of the audience and gives us opportunity to catch up.
Maintain Eye Contact
Hello! We are not on the ceiling nor on the floor. Please do not stare into the distance or keep your eyes closed. We are here and we can see you. I have been at presentations where I may as well be invisible and the speaker is staring up into space or down at a piece of paper.
In reality this is one of the hardest things to do so try and practice. It can be hard to look at people in the eye and talk but this is a two way process involving a speaker and an audience so acknowledge the audience.
Also, try not to glare or stare at audience members – it can make us feel uncomfortable. We are shy, timid things too.
Relax And Smile
If you feel tense the audience feels tense. If you tighten up you may lock up. Move about if possible (do not run about unless you are a CEO of a large corporation).
A smile can go a long way and make us feel more relaxed – in turn this should make you feel more relaxed.
Do Not Mumble
Speak clearly and try and focus on communicating the message you are conveying – some call it projection. The important thing is to be clearly audible. Ensure everyone can hear you including those at the back.
Beware of catch phrases – we will pick up on these quite quickly even if you are unaware of them. I remember a presenter used to say the word "great" every few words. It was great, then it was funny, then it was great and funny, then it became a little annoying (grating!?) and before long I was listening for greats and not at the presentation.
Manage Your Nerves
Remember – most of the audience are there because we want to hear what you have to say – we really do. We may also have seen you present before especially if we have a particular interest in the subject area. If you are able to do so try and channel your nerves into enthusiasm and passion for what you are talking about – this will also help drive your message across. Also make sure you have read up on your presentation and background into the subject area as this can offer additional comfort especially when the questions start rolling in. Another useful nerve management technique is to plan your presentation so you know when you have reached certain milestones – this is structuring your presentation. Keep your cue cards handy with short words and phrases to kick start you when you start to drift off track.
This is where it can be useful to watch yourself back from a recording – there is a big difference between being nervous and looking nervous.
This article was brought to you by Jason Slater Technology Blog
Catch Up Posts…
- Giving Presentations, From An Audience Perspective
- Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective #2
- Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective #3
- Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective, Part 4
- Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective, Part 5
- Giving Presentations From An Audience Perspective, Part 6
Previous 42 things…