28 Oct 2017 19:48 IST

Tell a story during your presentation

To expand on the slides and convey your message effectively, you should know the content inside-out

The earlier two articles on making effective presentations were about planning your content and preparing the slides carefully. The next step is to take your content across to your audience by presenting it well so it makes the desired impact.

The most common mistake that presenters make is to show the slide on the screen and then turn around and read the slide. Just think for a moment; if you were to read the same thing being projected on the screen one of these two things is not required – the slide or your presence. If you are to read what anyone else in the audience can read, what is your role?

Always remember your role. Your role is not to read the slides. Your role is to tell a story. Also remember the purpose of the slides. They are there only to hold the attention of the audience and give their eyes something to focus upon. The slides are like the background music in a concert. The presenter is always the lead singer. The slides support the presenter and should never become the sole focus of your audience.

The most effective way to make a presentation is to talk to your audience. Assume that you are talking to another person and focus on what you are saying. Hold eye contact with members of the audience individually, for a few seconds each, when speaking. Most importantly, say what is not mentioned in the slides.

Connect with the audience

That is what I mean by the term “telling a story”. You should explain the content and thought which are summarised in the slides. This is one of the most important reasons why your slides must be very brief. Such slides give the presenter a great opportunity to talk and connect with the audience.

Good presenters use all the various aspects of being a powerful communicator, in terms of leveraging their tone of voice, pitch, body language, gestures, and so on. All these elements will help to communicate your thoughts and the content effectively and with impact. It is also practically impossible to do all these when you are reading what is written on the slide and is yet another reason for not doing that.

In order to expand on the presentation, you should know the content inside-out. This is where planning the content helps. If a person has spent the required amount of time in preparing the content, knowing and understanding it in depth will naturally follow. On the other hand, if someone has just typed some words on the slide or, worse, copied and pasted content, their only option would be to read from the slides.

Practice makes powerful

It is not enough just to know about the content. It is equally important to practise your presentation. Even a routine group project presentation being made to your classmates requires practice. Only practice will help you plan and leverage the various strengths of a powerful communicator mentioned above.

Every presentation you make in your management institute is an opportunity to learn and hone these skills. Instead of preparing slides hastily, at the last minute, start practising all these aspects for every presentation you are required to make. By the time you pass out of your institute and enter the corporate world, your presentation skills will be significantly better than most. That, by itself, is a powerful competitive advantage in a world where every bit helps.

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