Techniques for Developing High-Impact Presentations By Ann Butera, President, The Whole Person Project Inc.
Add To FavoritesAdd to my favorites If you are like most people, you would rather have a root canal than deliver a presentation to a group of people, especially if those people are senior managers. Fortunately, making effective presentations is a skill that can be easily learned with a little practice and discipline. EFFECTIVE INTRODUCTIONS The opening minutes of any presentation are very important. During this time, you have to grab and focus the audience's attention and kick-off the presentation. Following are several things you can do to ensure that you accomplish these goals at the start of your presentation: Walk confidently to the front of the room, place your feet shoulder width apart and smile. (If seated, make sure that you are sitting upright in your chair and both feet are on the floor.) Speak in a conversational tone with confidence, enthusiasm and energy. Rehearse the first 1-2 minutes of the presentation until it comes naturally. Know your introduction cold. You may want to open with a brief anecdote or quote that relates to your topic. (Note: if you are not good at telling jokes, don’t even try!) Know and describe the purpose and objective of your presentation without checking your notes. When standing, allow your arms and legs to move naturally. Keep a relaxed, upbeat facial expression at all times. Refrain from resting hands on face and hips. Keep hands out of pockets. Avoid the "fig leaf" position when standing. CONQUERING THE BUTTERFLIES IN YOUR STOMACH Feeling a bit of anticipation before delivering a presentation is actually a good thing because this means that the right amount of adrenaline is coursing through your veins, helping to keep you sharp. However, if the prospect of standing before a group of people causes your knees to wobble and your heart to race, you are over-anxious and your adrenaline level is too high, making it likely that you will forget your message. The following exercises will help you manage your anxiety level and develop a positive outlook: 1. Breathing Exercises: In order to project your voice so that others can hear you, you need to breathe naturally. Unfortunately, stress causes you to breathe shallowly. Shallow breathing makes it difficult to project your voice. Practice your breathing by using the following exercise: a. Exhale b. Inhale slowly while counting silently to 5 c. Exhale slowly while counting silently to 5 Repeat this exercise several times. Another exercise is to: a. Exhale b. Inhale until you cannot inhale any more air c. Exhale slowly while counting out loud.
e. If you raise your shoulders when you inhale. Are you standing in the front of the room? b. concerns and “hot buttons. Raising your shoulders actually forces you to take shorter breaths. Are you sitting? c. The evening before your presentation." "you see"?) NOTE: When rehearsing your presentation. they perform the entire play exactly as they would if an audience were watching. You should feel the air first filling your diaphragm and then your chest. you should perform your own "dress rehearsal" in your head." Mental rehearsal is equivalent to a dress rehearsal in your mind. Do not speed up your counting in order to reach a higher number." "you know. whether you talk too fast or too slow) when delivering your presentation. After this "performance.Repeat this exercise several times. The purpose of these exercises is to improve the placement of the air you inhale and to increase air support. we tend to pick up and drop our shoulders as we inhale and exhale. 4. In your mind's eye. When you inhale. If you do not like your response to a question from your imaginary audience. Vocal Rehearsal: If time and physical conditions allow. Mental Rehearsal: "What the mind can conceive. Prior to the opening of a play. 2. Physical Rehearsal: Experienced presenters know that they must be mindful of their body posture. take the time to focus on the impact of your body language and location in the room: a.. Do you walk around the room or do you stand in one place? d. Prior to delivering your presentation. Where do you stand when you are writing on a flipchart or using an overhead? PREPARING A HIGH-IMPACT PRESENTATION Once you have gotten your feelings of anticipation under control. find a quiet place and lie down. Imagine yourself watching each member of the audience's expressions as they respond beautifully and accurately to your presentation. If you find yourself standing in one place. Once satisfied. commit your responses to memory. During the dress rehearsal. Quite often. practice vocalizing your presentation. Vocal rehearsals enable you to hear how you sound (i. Try to count to a higher number each time. when we take deep breaths. the body can achieve. 3. make notations in your "script" to identify times when you could move to a different spot. be sure to rehearse the words you will use to encourage audience participation.” Identify any expectations or presentation standards as you begin to plan your message. place your hand directly below your stomach." you may find you want to: Fine-tune your word choice (Did you stumble over any words?) Rework your segues (Did each transition clearly set up the next topic?) Change your intonations (Does your voice convey excitement and variety?) Remove "audible pauses" (Do you hear yourself say "uh. the actors memorize and rehearse their lines. the following techniques will help you organize a powerful message: Consider your audience’s needs. The key to both of these exercises is keeping your shoulders from moving up as you inhale. Determine your own presentation style: Will you lecture to or dialogue with your audience? How much and what type of audience involvement do you want?
. When you rehearse. see yourself delivering your presentation. Continue to mentally rehearse your answers until you are satisfied. try again to answer the question. you are only filling your chest cavity with air.
.Identify and set the presentation objectives. present the opposing perspective Draw conclusions concerning how your point is better 5. You wouldn’t want them to describe your presentation the way Gen. you may have to spend more time rehearsing your presentation for the sake of your audience.. and PowerPoint slides.e. If you find yourself doing this. i. 11. Consider the visuals (charts.. Remember that the majority of the population processes information visually.” 10. For example. reading off the PowerPoint slides or putting too much information on them. Prepare presentation aids: notes. Plan seamless segues to connect each topic in the presentation. 9. 7. i. which can be combined to form new ones: Strategy 1: A Call to Action Get the audience’s attention by citing an issue of importance Describe the need that requires action to resolve the issue Show how your idea satisfies the need Ask for action. i. Test all the equipment you will use to make sure it works and have a contingency plan in case the equipment fails during your presentation. bar graphs. Typical objectives are to entertain. persuade. David H. present your idea Make the counterpoint. Practice your pacing and delivery. Petraeus has described some government PowerPoint briefings . seek every opportunity you can to make a presentation. Draft and/or compile your handout material. the seating arrangement. However. If the presentation or meeting will last several hours. inform and/or motivate the audience. 8. Check the presentation room for layout and acoustics.g. etc. Objectives are critical because they show the audience the exact purpose of the presentation and allow you to measure your presentation's results against a specific standard. Your goals define the overall desired results of your presentation and specify exactly what the audience will be able to do or what it will know after the presentation. 6. if you really want to become a more proficient speaker. plan lunch and breaks to coincide with transitions between topics to minimize disrupting the presentation's tempo. e. and your equipment needs. making refinements as necessary until you are familiar with your content and can make your points within the allotted time.e.e. Develop your message and the order in which you will present the subtopics.. Therefore. There are three core strategies for organizing your message.“agony. the ability to present is a skill that requires a great deal of preparation and practice. be careful of becoming dependent on these aids. overheads.) that will help you convey your message. Determine the room layout. SOME FINAL ADVICE Although accomplished speakers make it look easy and effortless. flipcharts. support for your idea Strategy 2: A Rational Approach to Deal with a Known Situation Describe the existing situation Make your point Explain your rationale to support your point Strategy 3: The Devil’s Advocate Before the Call to Action Make your point.
volunteer to make presentations at staff meetings. a frequent conference speaker. Target one or two things that you want to improve and focus on those areas as you make subsequent presentations.com or 516-354-3551 . MBA. CRP is President of The Whole Person Project. and serves on the audit committee for a financial services firm. think critically about your performance and solicit feedback from others. Inc.. She welcomes your reactions and questions and can be reached at annbutera@cs. About the author: Ann M. If you use this approach.
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. an organizational development consulting and training firm. you will soon be delivering presentations like a pro. Butera. After each presentation.