We do presentations every day to explain our point of view/ideas to the team, supervisor and to family members. Some days we are happy with it some other days we feel could have done better. Similarly there are occasions we felt that the presentation of a speaker was excellent and we talk about it to our friends and family members. Also at occasions we felt why got into this program/lecture session because of the presentation was not done well. Back into our school/college days I am sure we liked few teachers/lecturers because of their methods of teaching were very good, essentially the presented the subject well to us which helped us to understand it better.
In my high school we had a Chemistry teacher who used to explain the chemical reactions with story. We were all eagerly waiting for his classes as he narrates great stories and linked it with the subject at the end. This has really helped me to understand the subject better. Now I realize that he wanted to do it differently, so he put efforts and prepared himself to teach the subject by way of storytelling. He understood the better way to get the attention of his audience- in this case his students. I am sure he was through with the subject and was passionate in teaching. In those days teachers mostly used to control students with stick and showing anger on them. When teacher enters the class you have pin-drop silence. In such circumstances this Chemistry teacher methods of teaching was attracted by most of the students as it was different from what we were normally used to. I was lucky to have another lecturer who taught us English Grammar in similar lines and had similar qualities listed above.
In my professional life had come across many seniors/colleagues who made an excellent presentation. When they take the center stage each one will look forward to listen to them. If I start writing about them individually it might turn out as another book. Let me summarize the things they were doing in common to make their presentation effective.
1. Prepare: They are well prepared with the subject they are presenting. They look forward to latest information on the subject. They spend time to understand the audience and their expectations to frame their presentation to suit their needs.
2. Make notes: They always make notes of important points which they don’t want to miss during the presentation. I experience this during the review sessions with CEO’s of organization, even though you had been provided with time slot at times due to their busy schedule you end up getting only 50% of allotted time or less. In such occasions making notes of important points which you don’t want to miss helps.
3. Examples/analogy: Explain details with analogy. I remember a senior executive heading the sustainability initiative of the large IT organization, when a question is asked he does not answer it straight first he brings certain analogy/examples then links his answer with that. Many a times I observed the effective speakers taking their personal life example and explaining the subject. I happen to attend the “Negotiations Skills” program conducted by William Ury and the spontaneity with which he provides examples is amazing. Similarly another amazing presenter I came across was Ron Kaufman the “Up Your Service” author and trainer he explains things with simple practical examples.
4. Contents: Ensure your presentation/slide contents are legible and readable without errors. Also each slide to have 3 or 4 points without cluttering it with paragraph of text. Readability of slides to audience is very important. While presenting don’t read the contents from the slide, required keep copy of presentation handy with you to refer to it. Couple of year back I attended a presentation of a Senior Leader from JLL at Singapore, Corenet Global Conference and his presentation slides had only pictorial representation and each slide he correlated and talked about in details. He made presentation for 45minutes or so, the entire hall of 400+ participants across the Globe was listening to him in pin drop silence. He had the relevant contents to attract the attention of the crowd. In case of face-face discussions/presentation as well think through and ensure appropriate contents are included. This applies very much for e-
mails as well, you subject line of e-mail should give clear message on topics under discussion. Body of the mail should have clear summary points on discussions followed by details supporting documents. When e-mails are forwarded it is very important to ensure the length of the mail, there is no point in forwarding all the 10+ forwarded mails, instead summarize the contents and send a fresh mail not exceeding half a page or one page which will provide much desired results than lengthier mails forwarded.
5. Think through the likely questions: For your presentation to be successful after going through the presentation by yourself think through the likely questions audience will ask and prepare you with the answers. Note down the key points of the subject in discussions. Example if you are addressing the employees on open house, discuss with the team to understand the current open issues and prepare you with the response as well note down the things done to enhance the employee satisfaction. While providing response these points will help to provide positive assurance that yes we have certain open issues however there have been some good improvements taken place to enhance the employee satisfaction.
6. Communicate with clarity and impact: Present with confidence. Once you’re through with the subject you gain confidence. Next your presentation should provide the required clarity and impact to the audience. Use simple language and explain it instead of use of abbreviation and complex words.
7. Create a positive impression: The audience should get confidence on things you are presenting. Give a brief about the topic you are discussing and this should touch upon why you consider will be able to handle this topic. Example: If you are talking on the subject of “Customer Satisfaction” start the discussion by stating that I think this presentation will help you to provide some inputs on enhancing the internal and external customer satisfaction based on my 15+ years of experience in handling the customer satisfaction and the measures we took helped us to achieve 4.5 rating on 5 point scale consistently for the last 5 years.
8. What is in it for me? The audience will look forward an answer to this. At the start of the presentation provide summary of topics getting covered and what they can expect at the end of presentation. Once this is clear to audience then you will get the full attention and it will help to achieve the desired results.
Excellent presenters do the following consistently:
1. They structure their presentation well with introduction, main content and conclusion.
2. They do research and practice themselves, to be through on the topics they are talking
3. Body language- they are relaxed, keep smile on their face, keep the eye contact with audience, and move around instead of standing still at one place.
4. Keep handy notes and key points which they would like to covey
5. Deliver it with clarity and with simple common man’s language
6. Ensure each slide contains 3-4 points
7. Engage with audience and answer their questions
“It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech-Mark Twain”
“You can speak well if your tongue can deliver the message of your heart-John Ford”
“There are always three speeches, for every one you actually gave. The one you practiced, the one you gave and the one you wish you gave- Dale Carnegie”