The key to success for everything we do in life is good preparation. The same goes for the presentation. If you want your presentation to succeed, you need to prepare for it. Firstly, you need to know the matter you are presenting in detail. It will also help to think about the audience you will be presenting to. Unfortunately, many presenters just don’t know how to effectively prepare for a presentation or they ignore these facts. There’s no easy way to get around the hard work of presentation preparation, but it could be a lot easier if you remember just a few things.
Here are six things that will maximize your chances of giving a successful presentation. Think about them before you stand in front of the audience and start speaking.
Think about the first impression
You won’t get a second chance to make a first impression so think carefully about how you are going to open your presentation. Your audience will decide whether they will pay attention to your presentation or not in the very first minutes. Sometimes, they can decide even in the very first seconds! Try to come up with a creative way to open your presentation such as telling a story or personal anecdote, asking a provocative question, or using a famous quotation.
Prepare to overcome anxiety
For people who face public speaking anxiety, it is not uncommon to start worrying weeks or even months before the event. It is very difficult for these people to ignore their thoughts about whether they will be ready enough when the presentation time comes. Such fears are often unfounded but can have serious consequences for the overall impression.
Some of the symptoms of such anxiety are: trembling, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, sweating, loss of voice, muscle tension, etc. Some of the steps you can do to prevent presentation anxiety are:
- Give up the way of thinking that you must always leave a good impression and fascinate the audience;
- Assess what is the worst thing that can happen to you if you make a mistake during the presentation;
- Focus on what you say or do, not how you feel;
- Give up perfectionism;
- There’s no reason to doubt your competence, but it’s always a good idea to rehearse a presentation;
- During the presentation, think about the next step you need to take.
Think about the time
Almost every person who has presented at least a few times in their life knows how easy it is to lose track of time during a presentation. This is not good for you or the audience. You should always stick to the set time frame because that way you respect the following speakers. In order to successfully keep track of time, it is necessary to answer the following questions:
- How much time do I have available?
- Is it less or more than I need?
- How long did the rehearsal last?
- Do I need a stopwatch?
- What parts can I throw out if I get less time than planned?
Keep in mind that an actual presentation can often take up to 30% more time than a rehearsal. Lastly, don’t forget to calculate the time it takes to answer the audience’s questions.
Prepare for questions after the presentation
The organizer or mentor usually asks you to dedicate part of the presentation to the audience’s questions, but even if it is not a request, it is always advisable to give the audience the opportunity to participate in the discussion. The problem is that presenters often forget to think about the questions before the presentation. There is often a justified fear that you will be confused and/or may not be able to answer some of the questions.
Fortunately, there are steps you can follow to prepare for this part of the presentation.
- First things first, be prepared! Put yourself in the listener’s position and think about what questions you might get. If you are unsure, present the topic to friends and family and ask them to write down a few questions that come to their mind first. Write down all possible questions and prepare a draft answer!
- Determine the rules of the game, such as time for questions asked, number of questions, etc.
- If you don’t get any questions, you can always start the discussion by yourself, and it’s not a bad idea to ensure that there is a “man of trust” in the audience who will ask the question first, which can direct the discussion.
- Accept the fact that you may not know the answer to every question. It’s not the end of the world! You can always say that you do not currently have enough information to answer a question or that you are collecting data at the moment. Give an option to the person who asked the question to answer it in the following days.
If you follow these steps successfully, a Q&A session might help you improve the overall impression of the presentation!
Add some interesting facts to your presentation
Did you know that if you add numbers and facts to your story there is 20 times more chance your audience will remember the message you want to convey? Keep this in mind, but also try to present those facts and numbers in an interesting way. An oversized number on the slide followed by a short explanation of what it represents is a good example of how it should be done. If you don’t know any interesting facts about your topic, do research! There is always something interesting, even about the most boring topics.
Think about non-verbal communication
Finally, one of the things you must not forget is non-verbal communication. Although we may consider it a secondary factor, nonverbal communication plays a key role in the success of any presentation. It is an important part of effective communication. Body language, tone of voice, facial expression, gestures and appearance are just some of the aspects of non-verbal communication that you need to think about when presenting. If you haven’t read any book on this topic, it is a good idea to check several online articles on this topic.
These are six important tips to keep in mind before your next presentation, but there are many more presenting topics to research in our blog.