I am often asked which part of the presentation preparation process is most important – the
answer is that they all are. If I am really pushed then the answer is practice since this is the one which makes the most difference, since this is what the clients see and hear. Do you effectively get across the messages that you’re hoping to deliver?
All the expertise in the world is of nothing if you fail to communicate it effectively.
What should you focus on? Are you clear what you want the audience to do as a result of
seeing and hearing you? Can you give them compelling reasons to do this? How have you done this?
Can you demonstrate that your solutions are best for them – to meet their needs, as they relate to this project? For example, are you making it easy for them to understand you by using words and phrases that they can relate to?
Are you telling your “story” in such a way as to build to a crescendo?
Give them time to absorb what you’re saying – pause, move around, let them give you feedback by nods and smiles, so you know they have got the message.
When you practice - you will find that the words that you have written down won’t be the words that you use when speaking, so re-write your notes to reflect our spoken word.
When you practice –- you learn and remember what you need to say. This makes you more confident and more able to focus on connecting with the audience.
When you practice -– you become more consistent with what you say and thus your timings,
again this builds confidence in your delivery.
Keep support materials to a minimum and make
sure they add credibility and don’t distract your audience; they can’t effectively take in information from you and from your support materials at the same time -– so don’t ask them to!
How many times are enough times to practice?
There is no definitive answer for this, but for new materials it should be a minimum of six to eight times -– would be typical for a ten to twenty minute presentation.
For example rock bands, sports personalities and politicians, all practice very long and hard behind closed doors to ensure that their final delivery in as close to perfect a they can get.
Many use a coach to help them make continued improvement to their performance, so they remain at the top of their profession –- they don’t see this as a weakness, they are experts at what they do, but recognise that they are too close to it to be able to identify real and achievable improvements in their own technique.
The same is true in the business world with many firms using external resources to provide
tactical support. This can help you become more confident, professional and increase your chances of success.
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