11 Tips for E-X-C-E-P-T-I-O-N-A-L Presentations!

by Joan Hebert, Hebert Performance Training

Expect to energize the room – then do it!
Your energy is contagious. If you talk in a monotone, look bored with the topic, or look like you really don’t want to be there, the group will feel it. Show energy through your expertise, passion, and excitement for the topic.

eXpect questions – welcome them!
If they don’t ask questions, they probably aren’t hearing the message. Questions help solidify the key points, issues, and create a connection with the audience.

Customize the material for THAT audience.
There is no such thing as an effective “off the shelf” presentation. All presentations need to be customized to fit the specific needs of the group – their knowledge level, expectations, current situation, challenges, and objectives.

Early birds get the worm.
Arrive early to arrange the room, test equipment, locate fire exits and restrooms, as well as adjust lighting and heat. Take care of any surrounding noise or distractions, and items that pose safety risks. The attendees expect everything to be ready for them, and will hold you accountable if it isn’t.

Participants need to participate.
Remember adults have many experiences to share and often have comments pertaining to them. Ask questions, get their input and ideas. Get them involved with the group and in the conversation. Don’t make a presentation a one-way monologue. It‘s easy to use overhead questions to get their input, and the feel of the group.

Take time to greet people as they enter the room.
Standing near the entrance and greeting people, or visiting around the room and introducing yourself is a good way to “warm up” the group. Small talk goes a long way in getting them to relax, and for you to get a feel for them.

It’s about the audience, not you.
Connect with them at their level, in their terms, in a way that they can understand the message. You aren’t there to impress or intimidate with your expertise, but to convey information, educate, or motivate.

Open the floor to questions.
Whether you take questions during the presentation or at the end, questions are critical. Taking questions, within reason, during a presentation are often easiest for the audience, but usually best managed by an experienced presenter.

No cell phones, beepers or other technology should be allowed during the presentation.
Not only do such interruptions cause the presenter to lose their train of thought, but make it hard for others to concentrate.

Avoid Powerpoint unless the group size warrants it.
Powerpoint is an overused tool, which takes away the thunder of the presenter, gets them watching the screen versus the presenter, and can be so lengthy it overwhelms the audience.

Learn your content. Know your stuff!
There is nothing more important than a presenter knowing their material. Know the facts, know the potential audience concerns, and the potential questions they may ask. Stay up all night if you have to, but know your material inside and out.

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