Whether it’s presenting a report to your management committee, talking to funders about your organisation or giving a PowerPoint presentation at an event, most of us are in the spotlight at one time or another. Try these ideas for making the most of it:
1. Plan and prepare – Ask; how many people, why are they attending, who are the other speakers and what are they talking about? (Get a copy of their presentations if at all possible). Plan your route to the venue, and back again! Practice your presentation too.
2. Aim to get to the venue early – always have the organiser’s mobile phone number and the venue’s phone number and a taxi number to hand. Public transport breaks down, traffic jams block your route, you get lost – it can happen to anyone – just be prepared.
3. Break the ice – if there is time before your presentation to network and introduce yourself and your topic to the audience informally, then make the most of it. Talking about your subject and getting people interested will help, especially if you’re nervous.
4. Get comfortable – Pick a spot in the room where you can be seen, but feel comfortable. Stay seated if that’s better for you – but remember to speak up, people tend to be quieter when sat down. Look at the audience, they won’t bite! In fact, unless you’re either very controversial, or going to give them bad news, they’re on your side.
5. Introduce yourself and why you’re there – Your presentation begins. If you’ve been introduced wrongly (it can happen!), make the correction quickly and light-heartedly.
6. Get to the point! – Make your key points very early on, and then give some examples to explain them, then repeat your key points and add a short conclusion.
7. If you decide to use PowerPoint… - Remember, you are more interesting than your slides – talk to the audience, not your slides. Don’t read slides out word for word. Use them as a prompt, for the main points only. Think about using pictures instead of words, or asking a question instead of having the answer on the slides.
8. Smile and make eye-contact – Unless your presentation is all doom and gloom, there should be an opportunity to smile and even share a joke with your audience.
9. Pause – take a breath and pause. Short breaks, especially after key points, help the audience take in what you’re saying and make your delivery seem more natural.
10. Make sure you’re including everyone – For large venues or audiences a microphone will be essential. Handouts of the presentation in a clear font (at least font size 12) will help, as will asking people at least a couple of weeks before the presentation if they have any access needs e.g. hearing loop or large print handouts.