Since my last post was on becoming more comfortable on public speaking I think it would be helpful to share some tips I have found most beneficial when preparing for a presentation. Keep in mind that these tips won’t work unless you are confident. Being nervous leads to second guesses and that’s when mistakes happen. So, take a deep breath, read my tips and know that no one expects you to memorize an entire presentation.
Rehearse, Don’t Memorize
Practice your presentation enough so that you’re comfortable with the outlined topic(s). The goal here is not to memorize your speech word-for-word because other than being extremely difficult and time consuming it’s always awkward to listen to. If we wanted to hear someone reading off a script we would go to the movies or you could simply e-mail the text to your audience and save them the trip. What we expect as the audience is an engaging presentation that’s easy to follow. Run through your presentation a few times until you’re familiar and comfortable with your presentation. This includes running through with the slides and an audience of any willing friends, family members, significant others…
Smile like You Mean It
They told me at my fundraising job that I should smile when I speak to people on the phone because they can tell when I’m frowning. I don’t know about that, but people can definitely tell when you’re frowning during a presentation so remember to show your pearly whites. No need to smile like a maniac the entire time (especially if you’re talking for more than an hour), but make it a point to make eye-contact and smile.
Eyes up here
The idea of “if I can’t see them, they can’t see me”, really doesn’t apply here. Your audience can see you and they’re not going to like what they see if all they’re looking at is the top of your head because you’re looking at the floor or reading off a piece of paper. They also don’t like looking at the back of your head because you’re reading off the slide show. Prepare yourself well beforehand, so during your presentation you can make eye contact and show your audience that you acknowledge that they’re there.
Technology isn’t Fool Proof
Make sure your Power Point or whatever program you intend to use works properly, not just at your house but also at the site of where you’ll be presenting. Remember to test out any videos or audio you want to include beforehand. If you’re not tech savvy it’s okay to keep the visuals simple as long as what you’re saying has value.
Photo Credit: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/presentation-skills-for-seo