Basic presentation technique

Public speaking is a form of art and a successful presentation looks almost effortless. When the speaker tells an intriguing story and the audience is all ears. It is not only inspiring to experience a good speaker, it can also be highly motivational afterwards to search for more knowledge on the topic of the talk.

The truth is that behind the easily digestible presentation is a lot of preparation. Many elements have to fall in to place in order for the talk to run smoothly. Bad structuring can destroy a well-intended talk, and the best planning can be ruined by technical issues with microphone, projector, etc.

Most people can give an decent presentation on a good day, but few can give an excellent presentation on a bad day. With a some basic presentation training it is possible to learn how to navigate through the difficult and unforeseen events that can arise during a talk.

Body language and voice

As the speaker and center of attention it is crucial to have a good posture and clear voice. A good posture is the foundation in the so-called Alexander technique and it can help you as speaker to get a natural and strong body posture. The trick is to pretend an invisible rope pulling you up at the top of your head. This will create a natural line from head to toe without making you look stiff or unnatural. This posture will also help you feel grounded and should you get thrown off during your talk, your body posture can help you maintain a stable and solid physical presence.

The audience will look at you and your slides. If you face the audience as frequent as possible it will create a stronger connection between you and your audience than if you were to stand with your back against the audience. It can be tempting to look at your slides together with the audience (especially if you are using a laser pointer to direct the attention on the slides), so try to avoid this case.

Your voice should be clear, so the audience can hear you. It is a common mistake to either talk too fast or maybe even mumble, especially towards the end of sentences. Generally, your speaking pace should be 10, 20 or even 30% slower than the one used in everyday conversations. For you it might feel too slow, but for the audience the pace must be slow since they are not only listening to your talk, they are also processing the information you provide them with.

Silence is generally a good thing in presentations. Having 5 second breaks here and there will let the audience sink in what you just said, as well as allow you to have a short break to gather your thoughts.

Slide show

A good  slide show will support your message and can help to plant the right images in the minds of your audience. Unfortunately, a bad slide show can confuse and disorient the audience and in worst case blur out your message. The trick is preparation. It is a common mistake to go straight to building the slides, which eventually can make the slide show look like the speaker’s personal manuscript instead of a nicely organized supplement to you talk. It is generally better to have to little than too much. Do not put in 4 photos if you can do with one.

Audience

Before starting your talk, try to gather information about the audience. The more you know about them, the better you can tailor your presentation to their level. This goes not only for the slide show, but also in building the story around your message. Maybe the audience are prone to certain types of analogies or maybe they share an experience you can refer to.

The better a presentation is carried out, the more effortless it seeems. And the more preparation is behind it.

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