How to Give the Best Oral Presentations

Sometimes as the leader of a team, club or organization, or even at a business networking event, you will be required to make an oral presentation. If just the thought of that makes you squirm, here are some things to focus on that will help to take some of the pressure away.

Be sure to dress both appropriately for the group you are addressing and your own comfort. That doesn’t mean you can wear sweats for a business presentation, but it does mean you can opt for a business casual look if that suits you better than a jacket and tie. Most importantly, be neat and together looking.

The group you are speaking to will take their cues from you so be aware of your body language and attitude. If the group gets the impression you don’t want to be there, neither will they. If you can convey interest and enthusiasm, everyone will enjoy the presentation.

Even if you’re nervous, remind yourself to sound confident. Speak clearly in a volume that is comfortable for you and audible to the group.

Prepare your presentation well. Make a rough draft to work from that you can add and delete items from as you plan your talk. Make a list of the points you want to cover and use this to speak from. Never use a fully written speech as it is too easy to lose your place. Make your bullets large and easy to read.

Rehearse your presentation well and if you can, present it in front of a friend or colleague.

Well before your presentation make sure that all your equipment is in place and set up properly. If you are using slides, make sure they are in order and that you have their order marked on your presentation cards.

When delivering your presentation, be sure not to rush. Speak at a normal conversational tone and allow people to absorb what you are saying.

Although it’s easy to get distracted with other thoughts once you start talking, try hard to stay on topic. Going off on a tangent can result in the focus of the talk being lost.

Keep this three-point mantra in mind:
o State what you will be covering

o Cover it

o Restate what you covered

Some things to avoid:
o Don’t talk to the screen
o Don’t stand in front of screen
o Don’t move around too much

By following these simple guidelines, you should have no problem giving a presentation that will not only go smoothly, it will be well remembered!

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Interaction: The Key to Successful Presentations

You have an important presentation to make. How will you measure its success?

The goals for some presenters are misguided: “I just want to get through it” or “I don’t want to forget anything.” These goals miss the mark.

Success is best measured with audience-centric goals. “I want my audience to learn;” “I want my audience to be inspired;” “I want my audience to change.” In truth, the highest goal of any presentation is integration of information. A presentation is successful only if an audience both retains the information and applies it or integrates it into their lives.

Failed presentations are costly to organizations. Consider the billions of dollars that are lost every year because audiences fail to adopt a new approach or refuse to be persuaded. How much time and money are wasted delivering or repeating a failed presentation?

Considering what is at stake, presenters and adult-educators should familiarize themselves with the proven assumptions of adult-learning, also known as andragogy. Our presentations will succeed when we consistently craft our messages and delivery styles to fit how adults learn and integrate information. By using at least a few of the following proven assumptions of adult learning (andragogy) to create interaction in your next presentation or meeting, you can maximize attention, buy-in, and retention.

Malcolm Knowles has popularized the following andragogical assumptions[i]:

The Need to Know. Adult learners need to know why they need to learn something before undertaking to learn it.

Learner self-concept. Adults need to be responsible for their own learning decisions and to be treated as capable of self-direction.

Role of Learners’ experience. Adult learners have a variety of life experiences, which represent the richest resource for learning.

Readiness to learn. Adults are ready to learn those things they need to know in order to cope effectively with life situations.

Orientation to learning. Adults are motivated to learn to the extent that they will perceive it will help them perform tasks they confront in their life situations.

Learning and integration are more likely to occur when adult learners recognize the relevance of material and have the opportunity to discuss their experiences as they relate to the material. Consequently, successful presenters actively draw out the past, present, and future experiences of their audience. This type of interaction makes it easier to establish the relevance and applicability of new information or proposed actions.

This explains why audiences prefer discussion-based presentations that are highly interactive, as well as why they dread attending the didactic “show-up and throw-up” type presentation.

The bottom line is that integration occurs best through interaction.

[i] Knowles M S (1990) The Adult Learner: a Neglected Species (4th Edition) Houston: Gulf Publishing

Effective Usage of Power Point Presentation

Why we are opting for Power Point presentation often? It’s an effective way of communicating, teaching, and learning. Anything which conveyed through pictures will capture all our minds quickly and reside inside easily. Isn’t it? Now we are going to discuss about how to make this effective communication more effective and perfect.

o First of all selection of background; This is called templates and that should be relevant to the topic or else at least colour of the background should be pleasing.

o Next is foreground option. This should match with background. For example some background with green colour font will be visible while you are creating the presentation, but during the show, the audience in the 5th row inwards can not view the contents. So the background and foreground should be contrast in color. Moreover it should not irritate audience eyes.

o For some text instead of underlining you can go for italic or bold, that make your presentation a neat one.

o Avoid much header and footers. That don’t use more content in master slides.

o A general statement is that for PPTs the rule 7×6 , i.e. 7 slides per presentation which is for one to one and half hours and 6 lines per slide. This rule is to avoid more information in single slide.

o The important and interesting feature is animations. The audience will enjoy the content if it is with text and picture animations. Because of the picture animations audience can easily remember the contents. But these should not be more also.

o You should avoid animations which has more time slice. Animations and text should coincide both in timings and relevancy. Any animation should not take more time to start, exists and exit.

o Even simply you can have picture only to explain content, which will give a great effect to the presentation.

o Don’t always use monotonous text sequence. If you are going to explain different terms, scatter the terms here and there, so that audience will sit straight after the usual show.

o Audio can be used wherever necessary. But it should not disturb your speech.