Presentation Skills

Presentation skills

You’re invited to a presentation.  Not another boring presentation! 

You hate sitting through this sort of thing.  You tend to fall asleep, especially if these presentations are scheduled in the morning.

Well, that does not have to be the case.

And now you’ve been asked to MAKE a presentation!  Panic!  What will you do?  How will you do it?  

First, take a deep breath, and relax!

It’s not that difficult – and you can make an excellent presentation which will have a positive impact upon your audience.  It just takes a little planning – but then planning is generally 90 per cent of all jobs.  The execution is the easy part.

So, let’s get started and tweak your Presentation Skills.

The first step now – as with all plans considering writing – is to consider your reader.  In this case, the “reader” is the audience to your slide presentation. 

What to expect?  It’s probably easy to think that all the members of the audience probably feel the same way you do – that they will come to expect a rather boring presentation.  So, let's be sure to disappoint them.  Let’s try to make a good impression.  No, let's make a GREAT impression!

Instead of talking AT  them, consider engaging them with something interactive.

Presentation Skills - Starting and Ending

Starting and Ending.  Your slide presentation should, of course, have an opening and closing slide – the title slide at the start and the same slide copied at the end to provide the professional end slide.  You title and your name will be on the title slide.

  • Starting the presentation with that information is a good idea to focus the reader. 
  • Ending the presentation with that information is a good idea as a “take-away” for your reader – to remember the topic and your name!  So, that’s the first part of the plan.

The best idea in a presentation is to follow three steps:

  • Start by telling the audience what you are going to be telling them.  (A brief agenda slide)
  • Then, the “meat” of the presentation when you present your information (logically, in a succinct and clear and simple format)
  • End by reviewing with the audience what you have just told them.  (A summary, or a short fun quiz, for example)

So, to be able to present an Agenda, you need to know what you want to say.  And that takes the planning.

Presentation Skills - what to include

What to include.  List the main points you want to present.  You might consider them Chapters or chapter titles in your small book.

  • You may have 3 or 4 main points.  For each “point” or “chapter,” you will have several ideas and points of explanation – and those can be the real “meat” of the presentation.
  • When you have the Agenda prepared, simply prepare the slides in a logical order.

Start with the title slide. 

  • Start with the title slide. 
  • End with the same title slide (as mentioned earlier). Copy the opening slide to the end.
  • Prepare separate Title slides through the presentation for each “chapter.”  These intermediary title slides will keep the reader focused.  They should follow very closely the points in your Agenda.
    Then, for each “chapter,” prepare a few information slides that tell about each chapter topic.

Keep each slide short.

  • Try to build your slides, starting with a short introductory statement.
  • Add 3 or 4 points to complete the short introductory statement.  (Remember that you are using PowerPoint, not PowerParagraph.)
  • Position the information on the slide so that it is attractive and centered vertically in a very attractive way.

Animations.  Add “builds” through the slide so that you can control how the points display. 

  • You don’t want the entire slide displaying at one time. 
  • You want to be able to click the mouse button or the space bar and have each point display by itself, one by one.  That way, you can focus the audience clearly on your current point.

Presentation Skills - The Actual Presentation

  • Make eye contact with your audience.
  • Start from the beginning and assume nothing. 
  • Don’t assume that your audience knows about your topic. 
  • Start from the basics and include everything. 
  • Keep the slides short and easy to read.

Begin your presentation -Engage the audience.  To begin your topic, you might engage the audience with a short quiz. 

  • It could be a multiple choice quiz to get them involved and thinking about the topic. 
  • Then, at the end, present exactly the same slides – the quiz again – but this time, provide the answers.

A “take-away” like the above (a short quiz) will help your reader to truly become engaged in your topic, and will prevent the idea that “this is a boring presentation and I can sleep through it.” 

There is always the challenge to do well on a quiz.  You might even provide a little “gift” to those who complete the quiz correctly.  (But don’t go overboard.  Make it something that is just fun!)

Presentation Skills - Illustrations

Illustrations.  Remember that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  If your topic lends itself to photos or graphics, add them. 

  • Consider a separate slide for your graphics so that you don’t overload each slide. 
  • Each slide must be very simple and professional.

Animations and Transitions.  PowerPoint offers so many gimmicks.  If you are a teenager, wanting to impress another teenager, go ahead and add all the “bells and whistles.”  However, if it’s a professional business presentation, then keep it very simple.  Generally, the “appear” transition and “build,” is a very good one to consider.

Presentation Skills - Summary

Here is a brief summary of what has been discussed:

  • Engage the audience.  I’ve mentioned a little bit about that.
  • Ensure that your slides are short, easy-to-read, and that you can control the points one by one.
  • Create the slides with easy-to-read points – not paragraphs or complete sentences. 
  • Start with a short introductory statement that you can complete with 3 or 4 points on each slide.
  • Keep the slides short.  You can have 10 short slides rather than 3 slides that are too full of information to read and understand.
  • Present the slides as guides for your talk.  Present the slide and then talk about the points you have presented.

The slide presentation should cover your topic completely and thoroughly.

Practice, practice, practice

Presentation Skills - Practice

Finally, PRACTICE. 

  • Go over the presentation once, twice, and more until you are comfortable.  Until you know what is coming next.  
  • Tweak the slides until you are happy with them.
  • Then, save the presentation so that, if you are asked to repeat, you can do that with ease.

Relax.  You have created an outstanding presentation and the audience will love it.

Strive for success!

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