Giving a great presentation requires a solid preparation. By establishing rapport with your audience, they become your partners in a dialog and your allies in your presentation. They will want you to succeed.
They will want to overlook your nervousness and lack of polish. They will laugh at jokes that they’ve heard before. And they will give you the benefit of the doubt even if they lose the thread of your logic.
1. Talk to people before your presentation begins
Introduce yourself as people gather. Ask them about themselves, what they do, and why they are there. Smile.
2. Have your audience’s best interests at heart
Treat your presentation as an opportunity to serve your audience, not to impress or “sell” them.
3. Establish eye contact
Look people in the eye one at a time. Hold each person’s gaze for 5 to 10 seconds, and then look someone else in the eye. We distrust people who won’t look us in the eye. A word of caution: some cultures consider direct eye contact intrusive and rude, so be careful.
4. Speak simply and with conviction
Don’t preach. Don’t give a speech, and just have a conversation with your audience. Say “I,” “we,” and “you,” when appropriate.
5. Approach your presentation from your audience’s perspective — not yours
Address their concerns. Speak to their interests, values, and aspirations. Avoid words they don’t understand. Cite evidence they find credible. If you have to use words or acronyms they may not understand, explain them immediately.
6. Avoid using humor or language that might offend them
Once you offend an audience, you’ll rarely regain their trust. Toastmasters International™ suggests avoiding language or topics best left in the “bathroom, barroom, or bedroom.” Generally, you can’t go wrong if you use humor that lets people laugh at you and your foibles. Also avoid stereotypes of all sorts.
7. Tell stories to engage their imaginations
Most audiences — highly technical audiences are an exception — relate to a personal story.
6. Dress appropriately
Dress a little more formally than your audience. Doing so establishes your credibility and authority. But there are times when you may need to modify this rule in order follow the second rule: dress appropriately for your profession. If you’re a lawyer speaking to high school seniors, you don’t have to dress down. Look the part. Wear your business attire. On the other hand, if you’re a construction worker making a team presentation to the CEO and CFO of a hospital as part of a bid process, no one will expect you to out dress them. Whatever you wear, make sure it’s neat and clean.
Do you have anything to add to these easy steps? Share them with us in the comment section below. Thank you.