Three Basic Steps
Begin by chalking out a strategy that will suit your audience.You will need different approaches for laymen and for experts.
1. Develop a flexible, flowing structure for your presentation. It must be flexible since you must adapt to the reactions you receive as you speak. It must flow smoothly from one topic to the next or your audience will get restless.
2. Use an interesting presentation style in which you do not appear either too casual or too heavy and pedantic.
3. It is important to remember that how you present is as important as what you present. In other words, style is as important as the content of your presentation.
It is critical to be clear about the purpose of your presentation. This involves knowing your audience, the occasion, and the expectations of your audience. Knowing the audience is very critical in determining what information you will present and how you will present it.
Tailor your message to the audience – understand their needs, desires, knowledge level and attitude toward your topic
Be concrete, specific, practical, and relevant
Clarify your objectives – is it to motivate, inform, persuade or teach? Remember that each of these objectives calls for a different approach
Clarify what role you will perform during your presentation – will you act like a coach or an advocate or a teacher? Each role calls for a different style of presentation
Develop a logically compelling case for your presentation – how will it help resolve a pressing problem, advance a worthy cause, or help someone in need?
You may already know a great deal about the topic, or you may require to do some research in libraries or on the Internet. In either case, you will have to select the material you want to use and give your material emphasis and focus to suit your audience profile.
Structure of Your Presentation
Once you know what you want to say, you have to consolidate the materials into a meaningful message. Do not assume that the information will speak for itself. Remember that your audience is capable of hearing your information in very different ways based on how you organise and present your material.
It is useful for you to remember that the audience will look for answers to these four questions from your presentation:
1. Why should I pay attention to your presentation?
2. Why should I care about the issue you are presenting?
3. Am I convinced about what you have to say?
4. What do you want from me?
Here are some points to help you organise your ideas so that you may answer these questions from your audience in a convincing manner:
Begin by providing an outline or a road map of your presentation in the introduction itself
Explain the benefits to your listeners if they accept your ideas. Explain also how the presentation is organised and the ground rules, such as, whether the audience should ask questions as you go along, or at the end of the presentation
Organise the body of the presentation logically – make it easy to follow – go from the simple to the complex
When appropriate, devise ways to encourage audience participation
Maintain your credibility and impartiality: discuss both the pros and cons of your proposal
Conclude on a “high note” – end with an overall summary and your recommendations to your audience
Include appropriate visual aids – remember however to make sure that flashy visual aids do not interfere with your core message
Practise your presentation and prepare for contingencies. Think about what might happen and have a contingency plan ready. For instance, what if the bulb of your projector blows out? Or, what will you do if there is a sudden change of venue or an unexpected interruption as you speak?
Your Presentation Style
To be an excellent presenter you must remember that communication takes place both at the intellectual and emotional level. Therefore, in addition to organising your ideas, your style of presentation must be able to gain and maintain the attention of your audience.
Here are some techniques that will help you to capture and hold attention:
Convey “controlled enthusiasm” for your subject – the audience will forgive a lot if the speaker is enthusiastic and appears to really believe in what he is saying
Pay attention to your body posture and the tone of your voice. Bad body language can damage any presentation
Radiate confidence without appearing to preach to the audience
Do not confuse enthusiasm with loudness
Candidly discuss pros and cons; explain advantages first; and then also explain risks or challenges.
A Practical Planning Tool
Having discussed some of the basics behind organising your presentation, let us look at a couple of practical tools you can use to organise and plan your presentation. In this section, we will look at a practical tool for planning your outline.
The best way to produce an effective presentation is to have a clear statement about your goals and an understanding of the obstacles you must overcome to achieve your goals. Here is a sample outline planner that will help you to organise your material into a useful outline for your presentation.