You have an important presentation to give and you’re ready to captivate your audience. But, wait a minute! Before you start, there are a number of common traps that can be avoided with a little advance work.
Here are some tips to help you take control and put your audience at ease. They apply whether you’re giving an informal presentation to a small group, or delivering a more formal address to a large audience.
Do a Test Run
This may seem like a no-brainer, but how many times have you seen a speaker get up to show their slides, Power Point presentation, or video, and the equipment malfunctioned? By doing an initial run-through with the equipment – especially testing microphone levels — you can easily save yourself from those embarrassing moments.
Scope out the Room
Just as people, rooms have their own personality. Each room has its own acoustics and its own particular lighting. Before your audience arrives, get to know the room. Does the lighting level need adjusting? Do a sound check to be certain you can be heard at the back of the room, and get up on the podium to see what it will feel like. Then walk around the perimeters of the room to develop a “physical” memory of the room for yourself. It will add to your comfort level.
Don’t be a “Motor Mouth.” Your audience needs time to digest material. Add interest to your presentation by deciding in advance where you would like to add dramatic pauses, where you would like to slow down, and where you feel it’s important to speed up. Remember, variety is the spice of life!
Bring your Personality With You
Too often speakers leave their real personality behind in an attempt to sound authoritative on the podium or chairing a meeting. Try to be natural and incorporate your personality into your presentation. That’s what makes you unique and adds interest to your material.
Make Life Easy on Yourself
Don’t fall for the misconception that you have to memorize your presentation. While you should be familiar with your presentation so that you are not glued to the script, a script serves as your map and guidepost. Some of the finest speakers around deliver from scripts. And remember: There is a difference between reading and delivering!