NAIL THAT PRESENTATION
Nothing beats the feeling of knowing you nailed a presentation. That sense of accomplishment when colleagues and managers congratulate you on how well you did. For some this is something that they want to achieve. I’m going to share just three tips that will help you with your presentation skills.
• Dress the part
There is no running away from this and that is why first impressions are lasting. Before you utter a single word the audience would have looked you up and down and concluded whether they want to listen to you or not. I am guilty of that. I will not be looking at a speaker’s dress sense per say but on how seriously they take themselves and me, by ensuring that they look presentable and took the time to prepare themselves. Your dress code should be comfortable for you. For ladies we need to make sure we choose the right heels that we can endure standing in for several hours or slip on some comfortable flat shoes. If you know that you are prone to sweating when you get nervous or the room temperature is high choose dark colours that don’t expose the wet patches, especially the armpit area. Use a strong roll on and deodorant that can mask the odour, if any. When you take the bathroom breaks double check that all zips are up, ties are straightened, bra straps are out of sight and shirts and blouses are neatly tucked in. Looking good boosts self-confidence which will reflect in the delivery.
• Choose the appropriate visual aid
Whether you are using flip charts, whiteboards, props or computer-based presentation ensure that they are appropriate for your presentation. Prior to the start of your meetings ensure that you have checked your equipment and position your material close to you. When using a flip chart you may want to write out some information before hand so that you direct your efforts on engaging with the audience. Do not bombard the audience with too much imagery or wording but use your aids as a tool to:
emphasise key points
simplify complex information
enhance the quality of your presentation
Visibility of your aids is important. People sitting in different positions around the room should be able to clearly view and see wording and images. Use dark, bold colours that can be read from a distance. Use pictures that are blown up and can be clearly seen in detail by the whole audience. Props must be readily available and positioned neatly and in the sequence of your talk. Don’t put yourself in a position where you have to look for stuff or realise that it is not working the way it should. Remember, visual aids are there to enhance the quality of your presentation. The aids are not there to present for you.
• Be exciting
How would you feel if you were listening to yourself as part of the audience? Would you be entertained, engaged and enthusiastic about what is being presented to you? Good presentations start with an ice breaker that will set the tone. Get people laughing and relaxed before you begin. The organisation of your presentation must have the typical flow of opening, body and conclusion. Transition well between your points and make it easy to follow. Avoid unnecessary waffling and get to the gist of the matter. Your body language must show confidence. Own the stage! Never give your audience your back. Know your slides, props or information such that your focus is on your audience and not on the information being projected or displayed. Engage with your audience through eye contact, appropriate pauses to allow moments of reflection about the things that you said and make them laugh. Use pronouns such as you and I which makes the matter personal and relatable. Avoid becoming monotonous by varying the tone, pitch and volume of your voice. When you are passionate and enjoy your topic, this will reflect as you present. Nervousness eventually subsides once you start so be natural. Enjoy yourself when you’re up there. Most importantly, get feedback about where you can improve. We can only get better!
Lorraine Penduka ACB ALB
Centurion Breakfast Club President