Presenting with Impact!
- Tips and Techniques.
- Gaining Commitment.
- Visual Aids.
- Voice Techniques and Gravitas.
- Dealing With Anxiety and Nerves.
- Handling Questions and Objections.
The Nature of Presentations
The nature of presentations has changed considerably. The novelty of slick PowerPoint slides is no longer enough to attract and hold attention, and certainly not enough to persuade people to take action towards a pre-determined objective. Even the typical environment has changed. Presentations now also take place across desks, tables, in restaurants, hotel reception areas, etc. Engagement is the key. Presentations are essentially about engagement as well as influencing your audience towards a pre-planned objective. Here are some of the essential tips to help you deliver all kinds of presentations with impact.
Tips and Techniques
Your intention for the presentation will drive everything else - the planning, content, impact, etc. Ask yourself, “Why am I giving this particular presentation?” “What is it that I am hoping to achieve at the end of it?” “What action do I want the audience to take?” “How will I know when I've been successful?” Without a clear-cut objective, it is very difficult to plan your strategy and structure. The following will provide the basic guidelines for an effective structure.
The Introduction (tell them what you are going to tell them)
Gain the full attention of your audience from the very beginning. Your introduction should contain an attention-grabber, an agenda, a clarification of the audience's requirements, and agreement to the proposed structure.
The Body (tell them)
Once you have clearly defined your presentation objective, it’s time to identify the issues that will enable you to put your message across. Each of your main points must link up in such a way that the audience will understand how it impacts upon their requirements. Each point must also be able to stand on its own, with its benefit statements, visual aids and other supporting data, to allow you to flex your presentation to your audience's needs on the day.
Once you have planned your main points, the next step is to prioritise them. Take note of the points at the bottom of your list. It might be better to leave them out completely than risk diluting the more powerful statements.
The Summary (tell them what you have told them)
Although it may seem redundant to repeat the major points and benefits, don't fail to do so. Repetition aids retention and provides clarity. Be careful not to fade out. Just as you created impact with your introduction, you must also end with a powerful conclusion.
Gaining Commitment (ask them what they think about it)
If when you finish a presentation, the audience are extremely impressed with your delivery, your visuals, your analogies, the way you used slides, your great eye-contact and humour, etc., and they don't take action towards your preplanned objective (what! you didn't have one??), you have failed!
Unless your presentation is purely an information-giving session, there is almost always something that you're wanting your audience to do as a result of your presentation. For example:
- To buy your idea.
- To accept your strategy.
- To implement your strategy.
- To approve your budget.
- To support your venture.
The proper use of visual aids is to achieve something in your presentation that you cannot do as effectively with words alone. In other words, visuals must support your presentation and not be used to make your point for you. It is the combined impact of the visual and vocal that gets the message across effectively. Don’t place the major emphasis on visual aids and relegate yourself to the minor role of narrator.
You should always be in control. The visual is an aid and must never become more important than the presenter.
Use presentation media appropriately and responsibly. Don’t use slides out of habit. Most people have heard the phrase, ‘Death by PowerPoint’ so don’t use slides if they are not appropriate. Avoid using a Slide presentation to small groups of people unless absolutely necessary and avoid using Flipcharts when talking to large groups of people.
Become thoroughly familiar with operating the equipment beforehand.
Ensure that your visuals are large enough for everyone to read and simple enough for everyone to understand.
Avoid reading word-for-word. The audience will be reading faster than you will be speaking, and will not be listening. Allow the audience enough time to read and take in the images and then remove them as soon as you move on to the next point.
Stop talking whenever you glance at your notes, visuals, etc. Maintain eye-contact whenever speaking.
Voice Techniques and Gravitas
Most people have a relatively short attention span. People think at a rate of four to seven times faster than they talk. This means that if you don't arrest their attention, they will probably end up day-dreaming. It's your responsibility to keep the audience engaged at all times by relating what you are saying to their specific needs and situation. You also need to express confidence, show enthusiasm, and demonstrate a lively interest in what you are saying. Give of yourself; use examples and stories from your personal and professional life to elaborate and bring your message to life. To monitor your impact, ask yourself:
- Am I bored?
- Am I speaking automatically or being mechanical?
- Am I reciting word-for-word?
- Am I making sense?
- Am I addressing their needs?
- Am I in? ....... teacher mode.
- Am I projecting enjoyment of the presentation?
- Is my voice crisp and clear?
In order for the audience to understand your message, they need to hear what you have to say. Always face your audience, project your voice and speak clearly. Open your mouth and purposely form your words.
To hold the attention of your audience, project with gravitas and punctuate your delivery by varying the TONE of your voice; the PITCH of your voice; the LOUDNESS of your delivery; and the RATE of your speech.
Gravitas - Calm; Professional; Respectful; Dignified; Assertive; Impact!
Gravitas is a quality of substance or depth of personality. It’s presenting dignity, a serious or dignified demeanour. To develop and project Gravitas:
- Face the audience with confidence and maintain eye contact.
- Make an impact even before you start to speak by considering what you are about to say before saying it. Start with a few seconds of eye-contact and then once you’ve made the connection, begin to speak calmly. Talk at a steady, measured pace.
- Speak consciously. Eliminate all the unnecessary ‘fillers’ from your speech such as, “Uhm”, “ah”, “You know”, and any other unnecessary irritators.
- Avoid unnecessary ‘Softeners’. There are times when it is important to ‘soften’ your message in order to be sensitive towards a particular situation. However, there are many times when it is unsuitable and undermines your assertiveness and credibility. Beware of words such as, ‘Sort of’ ‘Kind of’ ‘Perhaps’ ‘Probably’ ‘Possibly’ and ‘I think’ (when you are certain).
- Pause for a few seconds to allow significant points to sink in. Ensure you maintain eye-contact whilst doing so. Get comfortable with silence.
- Give your undivided attention when others are speaking and when they have finished, don’t rush to answer. Wait a few seconds and consider what they have said before responding.
- Ensure that your talk is structured, logical and easy to follow. Keep your message and content concise, clear, and to the point.
Dealing with Anxiety and Nerves
- Check the facilities and equipment in advance. Ensure that your audience will be comfortable and well-positioned to see all visuals.
- Obtain information about the audience beforehand. Learn their names and use them.
- Know your objective, subject, material and be able to operate the presentation equipment.
- Prepare a carefully structured outline; set up prompts, and practise.
- Consider which methods of participation you will be able to use. In order to obtain commitment, understanding, retention and rapport, you need to involve your audience.
- Anticipate problems and prepare ways to cope with them. Practise responses to tough questions or objections.
- Identify your fears. Confront them and transform them into realistic affirmations.
- Introduce yourself in advance. Arrive early and chat.
- Manage your appearance. Dress comfortably and appropriately.
- Assume that the audience is on your side. Act as if you are confident.
- Do not rush to speak. Wait until the audience is settled and then provide an overview and objective of the presentation.
- Give special emphasis to the first five minutes. Rehearse this and deliver it without notes.
- Ensure that you understand the needs of your audience and keep your focus on them at all times. Talk to, and with your audience, not at them. Be natural and use your own style and words, speak from your beliefs and convictions.
- Maintain eye-contact at all times and listen! Listen with the intention to understand.
Handling Questions and Objections
By anticipating questions and objections before your presentation, you can prepare strategies and adjust the content so as to avoid uncomfortable situations.If they do arise, the following steps will help you to cope with them professionally and effectively:
- Listen with the intention of understanding.
- Check your understanding.
- Answer clearly and concisely.
- Listen with the intention of understanding.
- Check your understanding.
- Ask a need-seeking question.
- Answer with a Benefit statement.