13 Jun 2016 20:02 IST

Be a confident presenter

Here are a few tips that can help you make an impressive presentation

A few weeks ago, I trained a team of 30 business leaders on making memorable presentations. Most of them have an experience of over 15 years, and team leaders are expected to communicate with larger audiences from time to time.

As it is with learning any skill, presentation too requires continuous practice. However, certain basic nuances must be learnt and practised from the very beginning, if you want to do a decent job.

Number one fear

Understandably, public speaking ranks number one in the list of fears for most people. Fear of marriage, death, bugs, heights and everything else ranks much lower. People freeze at the podium or on the stage, even when they are bolstered with necessary confidence beforehand. Some amount of nervousness is common with every presenter, including the most practised and professional one.

Mark Twain referred to this when he said: “There are two types of speakers — those who get nervous and those who are liars!”

In fact, a small dose of nervousness is actually good for the presenter to be able to deliver a memorable presentation. Rob Gilbert was of the same opinion, when he said: “It is all right to have butterflies in your stomach; just get them to fly in formation.”

Some of the low-hanging fruit are there for the picking, things that are easy to learn and follow and will go a long way in making effective presentations. While this column does not cover everything there is to master the art of presenting, here are some steps that will help you give a decent performance.

~ Always reach the venue well in advance, and inspect the physical aspects of the place, including seating arrangements, projection facilities and its compatibility with the computer or laptop being used and other factors.

~ Follow a ‘3T’ approach to your presentation — ‘tell’ what you are going to tell, ‘tell’ it, and finally, repeat what you told.

Obviously, the first one is about giving a broad introduction to the topic of your presentation; the second is about dealing with the topic in depth and the third is summarising the key takeaways.

~ Understand the background of the audience as much as possible. This is required to establish the right wavelength. Audience analysis could cover answering questions like ‘what is it that they want to know?’, ‘what is it they need to know?’, ‘what is it that they may potentially be aware of already?’, ‘what is in it for them from your presentation?’ and other such questions.

~ Even if you do not have answers to the above, good presenters spend a few minutes trying to assess them by asking a few questions, and then adjusting their messages accordingly.

~ It pays to define the purpose and outcome of your presentation. Purpose is what you intend to accomplish and the outcome is what you want the audience to do after your presentation.

~ ‘BIKER-B’ is a good acronym to follow in making an effective presentation: b stands for bang, i for introduction; k stands for key points, and e for examples; r for recap and the last b again for bang.

So it is necessary to start the presentation and end the presentation with a ‘bang’.

~ When you start your presentation, greeting the audience loudly gets them to be with you. Do it in style.

~ Position yourself to the left of the screen while facing the audience, as it helps you use your right hand without showing your back to the audience.

~ Adopt a neutral posture, standing straight and with hands down. Avoiding the postures of dancing, keeping your hands in your pockets, tilting or twitching, is a good idea.

~ Avoid using manual props like pens or spectacles.

~ Fewer the slides, the better it is for an effective presentation. I enjoyed and benefited greatly from Guy Kawasaki’s advice of 10-20-30 in presentations. Watch the video below.

 

 

~ No slide should have more than four or five bullet points. Avoid using slides as a word document.

~ Use no more than two colours for the bullets in the slides. And use relevant images or pictures. This makes the presentation visually appealing.

~ Check for spelling errors and alignments.

Best presentations do not ever resemble a doctoral thesis. They just carry very few, useful messages and stories that support them. Presenters also make effective use of humour. However, make sure that humour isn’t used to conceal poor preparation. Occasional and appropriate use of self-effacing humour is actually good.

Presenters benefit a lot from preparation and rehearsals. Some of these tips can help build confidence.

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