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How To Deliver a Great PresentationDirk Hannemann, BerlinTrainer Communicationwww.hannemann-training.deWhat this country needs is more free speech worth listening to. - Hansell B. Duckett 1
Introduction: No Need to FearIf this were a list of the human races greatest fears, public speaking would be right at the top. Whether itsforgetting your lines or realizing you have a tail of toilet paper hanging out of your pants, fear of public speakingreally boils down to fear of being ridiculed, rejected, and publicly humiliated.But why? If you can speak 1-1, 1-2 why do you have problems speaking to many people? It remains a 1-1 situationfor your listener. Focus on your outcomes, not your fears and potential problems. Feeling nervous is a good thing- it shows you still care about your performance. Being comfortable with who you are, what you’ve accomplished,and where you’re going is the essential foundation to any public speaking platform. Be positive about youraudience and what they will learn from you. Appreciate their presence and let it show. It can be fun!Errors are okay. So you tripped on the microphone cord. So what? Everyone makes mistakes. Acknowledge themand move on. If you forget to read a sentence off your notes, its doubtful anyone will know. If you skip forward tothe next image on the projector by mistake, no ones going to run you out of town. Dont worry. Its not life ordeath, its just a speech.Act as if. The old saying "fake it til you make it" is actually pretty good advice. Even if you have zero confidence inyourself, try acting like you do. The longer you fake it, the more comfortable it will feel, until, voilà, youre a bonafide confidence machine. Visualize yourself being fabulous. Negative thinking will get you nowhere but down inthe dumps. If you believe that youll be great, you will be. If you think youre going to fail, you probably will. Its assimple as that. Were usually our own worst critics. Relax.There are only two types of speakers in the world. 1. The nervous and 2. Liars. -- Mark Twain 2
#1 Don’t Be a SpeakerDon’t be a “speaker”, be an expert who speaks. Speakers are a “nice to have” but experts are a necessity. There isa high demand for people that can both provide content and deliver it effectively from stage. Some can do one ofthe two, most don’t do either and a select few do both. Aim to be great.Know your audience. To whom are you speaking? If theyre colleagues, they probably want to learn somethingfrom you. If theyre friends, theyre likely looking to be entertained. If its a judge, well, he or she wants to beconvinced. Know who your audience is and tailor your speech and delivery to them. Give them what they want!Develop your speaking skills - its a great way to develop your career. Speak at a normal pace and vary in speed,volume and rhythm. Monotones are mono-not on us‘. Practice by reading everything out loud. Breathe. Pausewhen you speak to create impact. Make wide, open types of gestures and avoid mechanical, rhythmic gesturesunless you are conducting an orchestra.Find out what the 5 most pressing questions the audience has about it are and answer them. If the audienceleaves with 5 solid answers to their 5 biggest questions, they’ll be very happy, even if you have zero charisma anddidn’t crack a single joke.Open your speech with impact, close with direction. You are introduced. Stand at the lectern, pause, scan, focuson a face and then speak. Practice your speech opening so you can do it without notes. Never have a false finish -people just give up listening when you do this.Public speaking is the art of diluting a two-minute idea with a two-hour vocabulary. - San Diego Union in 1922 3
#2 The Slides Are Not the PresentationThe power is not the point – slides are there as navigation points, not to be the content.Give your presentation software center stage is the biggest mistake you can make as a speaker.Powerpoint is a tool designed to augment your presentation and not to be your presentation. Neverforget: You are the presenter. Your message should be the focus. Not your slides. Not your props. Andnot your handouts. You are in the lead role, and you need to retain that role.Display visual information that illustrates your plot in the clearest way possible. Stand with yourvisuals, becoming a clear part of the visual experience from your audiences point of view. Do notstand meekly in the corner, removed from both the audience and the bright screen.Know your material. While being flexible is smart, trusting yourself to be brilliant without anypreparation is something even the pros dont attempt. Do your research. Know what youre going tosay and how youd like to say it. The more you know, the more confident youll be up there. You needenough data to sink a tanker. Research. Facts. Evidence. Proof. Give them 2% of your knowledge andkeep 98 % in reserve. Maybe they want another one percent. Got to be ready for anything. If youknow your topic inside and out — deep and wide — then there is nothing to worry about.Employ quotations, pictures, and statistics. But don’t include these for the sake of including them, butdo use them appropriately to complement your ideas. Support your key message.It takes one hour of preparation for each minute of presentation time.-- Wayne Burgraff 4
#3 It’s Not About YouWhat new ideas/skills will your audience have when they leave your session? If the only answer is “they’ll knowmore about me!” you need to start over.Its SO not about you. The more you can take the focus off yourself, the better. After all, its not likely youre beingasked to give a presentation of your life story. So concentrate on the message and find freedom in just being themessenger.You are not Bono. It is an honor to be invited to speak, but you’re not a rock-star. Even if you are keynoting, it’snot your event (unlike a U2 concert). You are an invited guest into their world. Some speakers have huge egos,and often it gets in everyone’s way, especially the audience’s.It’s precisely when your presentations get really good that you enter into dangerous territory. As ourpresentations get stronger, we get more confident – maybe even cocky. When you’re standing in front of a group,clicking through your images, cracking your jokes, rattling off your stats, it’s easy to get the impression that yourpresentation is all about you. In truth, it never is. While most of the skills we talk about here involve investingoneself in the presentation process, it’s also important to know when you are getting in the way of your ownmessage.When thinking about presentations as storytelling, it’s tempting – even natural – to want to cast oneself as theprotagonist. This is a mistake. The next thing you know your talking about your CV or your company’s historyinstead of the matter at hand. Make your audience the hero of your story. Speak to them about the challengesthey’re facing and then relate your brilliant solutions. It’s not about you.Of those who say nothing, few are silent.--Thomas Neiel 5
#4 Don’t Use the TeleprompterIf everything you say is on your slides, you’ve rendered yourself useless. Speak, don’t read.The eyes have it. People trust people who look them in the eye, so look at your audience when youre speaking tothem. Dont look at the floor -- theres nothing down there. Dont look solely at your notes -- the audience willthink you havent prepared. You appear more confident when your head is up, which puts your audience at easeand allows you to take command of the room. You have to look people in the eye. In large rooms (and small) lookdirectly at individuals. Do not look at the screen or flipchart as if it were a teleprompter.Be smart with your slides. No more than ONE point per slide! Simple visuals for the screen, always. Moretechnical, complicated data presentation can appear in the handout. Make them simpler. Always simpler. Avoidsmall fonts: no one can read them.Memorize this sentence: “If people can’t read my slides from the back of the room, my type is too small.” Nowrepeat it over and over again while you create your slides. If people are squinting during your presentation, tryingto make out what’s on the slide, you’ve lost your audience. Seth Godin says, “No more than six words on a slide.EVER.” This may be too extreme, but you get the idea. The more words you use, the less readable they become.Practice a speech a lot. Once youre prepared, go through the speech. Then read it again. Then again. And thenonce more. Practice to your team or friend or dog. Every time you go through your presentation, youre addinganother layer of "I know this stuff.“If you cant write your message in a sentence, you cant say it in an hour. --Dianna Booher 6
#5 Show PassionHave passion for what you’re saying. If you don’t, your audience won’t either.If you dont believe in, or are not engaged by what you present, you might as well call in sick - or use anothertactic to avoid the presentation. There is one golden rule: Stick to topics you deeply care about and do not keepyour passion buttoned inside your vest. An audiences biggest turn on is the speakers obvious enthusiasm. If youare lukewarm about the issue, forget it!Use simple language, use simple words so everyone can understand. Enrich your speech with good quotes fromthe field. Coin catchy slogans and apply the Rule of Three - "Government of the people for the people by thepeople!“ – or contrast - "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.“ Askrhetorical questions - it helps the audience to think and focus.Never use bad language. That means, don’t use obscenities. Sexist language is out, too - it will ruin yourreputation. Political correctness is paramount when your talent is on show! Never forget it! Speaking of PC, achairman can be male or female and is never a Chairperson!!! Madam Chairman or Mr Chairman.Never apologize for being unprepared. It will kill audience enthusiasm for you. They will find out soon enough.Authenticity. From the heart. You have to mean it. Absolutely fundamental. If it matters to you (deeply), it willmatter to them.A good orator is pointed and impassioned. --Marcus T. Cicero 7
#6 How to Deal With Cell PhonesNo matter how many times you remind people, someone’s cell-phone will go off during your talk. Get over it.Make sure your own cell phone is off before speakingYou’re not their parent, don’t tell them to put phones away, just ask as a courtesy to put the ringer on silent. Idon’t understand speakers that tell audiences they can’t text/tweet during a talk. Make your content so goodpeople feel they HAVE TO tell others right away, but great enough that they don’t want to miss a word.Stay on topic, make your presentation a dialogue and interact with people in a good manner. Ask questions (andcare about the answers). Solicit volunteers. Use the questions and answers session after your speech to solidifythe impression that you are an expert, not (just) a speaker.Thanks to Twitter or Facebook today’s audiences increasingly value their own opinions and they expect thoseopinions, or sometimes questions, to be actively incorporated into a presentation in real time. One more way tointeract in a good or in a bad way.Never embarrass an audience member - you never know who they are and how you can damage yourself.Speak when you are angry—and you will make the best speech youll ever regret. — Laurence J. Peter 8
#7 Deliver On TimeEnd your presentation early. Keep it short and simple.Time your presentation during rehearsal - always. So there are no surprises. Have a section or sections that youcan cut out of a speech when you are told your time has been cut by 5 minutes. Keep to time - nothing is moreimportant.Know whats expected of you and deliver that -- and no more. Weve all been tortured by a speaker who goes onand on, caring little for the audiences interest or comfort level. Dont be one of those speakers -- always leavethem wanting more.Cut down the number of slides. You don’t need a transcript of your speech with every point and sub-point. Yawn!People are only going to remember the major points any way.Distribute a handout. Better not distribute the handout before you begin speaking. If you do so, people will startreading ahead instead of listening to you. Instead, tell people that you will distribute a handout of the slides whenyou are finished with your presentation. (Or upload them to slideshare.net.)Be early and stay late. Getting to know the audience beforehand and talking after to answer questions is aforgotten thing that gives the highest value.A speech is like a womans skirt: it needs to be long enough to cover the subject matter but short enough to holdthe audiences attention.~Author Unknown 9
#8 About HumorWho doesnt like to laugh a little? Tell great stories (your own, not someone else’s), and be funny. You dont have to be acomedian. Don’t tell jokes, but use humor.A few lighthearted comments can help humanize you to your audience. Win them over with a smile and a well-timed cleverremark, if you can. But be advised, too many jokes can weaken the validity of a presentation. The goal is to connect to youraudience. And where you connect with people is on the emotional level. You have great data, but is it the right data for them?Can you feel their pain? Can you tell a story? This is one important way to connect..Some presenters feel uncomfortable employing emotional appeal because they think it comes across as manipulation. But itonly comes across as manipulation if it is not sincere, honest, or used with restraint. A smile may be the single most powerfulform of nonverbal communicationWhy do speakers open with irrelevant jokes? It is a trap even for seasoned speakers. While we love to use emotions andhumor when we get up in front of a crowd, these tactics can quickly wear out an audience. If you have a rib-cracking opener, byall means use it. But never allow yourself to be put in the position of reaching for jokes to fill in for a dearth of information or alack of clarity. Stories, jokes, or other “sidebars” should connect to the core idea. Anything that doesn’t needs to be edited out.Once you get people laughing, theyre listening and you can tell them almost anything. - Herbert Gardner 10
#9 No Slides at AllBe prepared to present without slides if something goes wrong. And then do it on purpose.If your laptop flakes out, or your movie won’t play, you are responsible. Good performers don’t blame their tools.If something doesn’t work, simplify. Practice in the venue. Ask the organizer to find you 10 minutes during theday, or the day before, to do a test run. Have a backup machine.Never troubleshoot in real time. 45 seconds is the most I’d spend. With everyone watching, your debugging skillswill be severely compromised. If you can’t fix it in that time, drop it. Your default contingency plan for any demois to have a screencapture of it on video, on your laptop. This means that no matter what goes wrong, you canshow the video of a demo.Most Powerpoint presentations are done poorly. I often think the presenter would be more compelling if shewould ditch the presentation software and just speak. Speakers are their best during Q&A because they’re nothandcuffed to a slide. Think about that. Consider a demonstration instead of a presentation. But avoid thecommon mistakes. Keep a demo short. Choose a clear, and real, problem to solve. Know who you are speaking toand pick an example problem they care about it to use in the demo. Avoid the dead air of waiting for things toload. Don’t trust wifi. Plan for slow or no-bandwith.Why doesnt the fellow who says, "Im no speechmaker," let it go at that instead of giving a demonstration? ~KinHubbard 11
#10 Be YouWere all human. Were all a little afraid of the podium, the microphone, or the boardroom. Despite what youmay believe, people dont want you to fail. They ultimately want to see you succeed. Give them what they wantby just being the best You you can be.While presenting, give the audience the authentic you. And guess what? You’re not perfect. Showing you humanside can feel unnatural because it requires vulnerability with people you don’t know all that well. So tell a storythat shows your humanness and people in the audience will connect with you.Have a watchful eye on the masters. If youve got a speech or presentation in your future, start looking for whatmakes successful public speakers so successful. Note their styles and habits and keep them in mind as goodexamples. But when presenting on your won, don’t imitate. Being natural when speaking to an audience is betterthan trying to be perfect.Be you. When you try to be someone else on stage, it makes you even more nervous. I dress like me, I talk like meand I say what I think. I tell stories. That may not be your style. Don’t force funny. People will try to knock that outof you. Just in the past two days one person said I should have better dressed up and wear a tie, because I wear ashirt and jeans. Another person said I was “over the top” with how I speak. What you don’t hear is the silentmajority that like you being you, that are relieved that it isn’t another stuffed-up suit and tie on stage, and forsome of us “over the top” means really freaking passionate about what we say. I ain’t changing that for anybody.And neither should you.They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. - Carl W. Buechner 12
Do It Yourself: Deliver a Great PresentationBecoming an Excellent Presenter is as tough as becoming a great cook, chess player or surgeon. PresentationExcellence is never accidental!No, it aint easy. In fact, its hard. But careers have been advanced or derailed based on a presentation. Deals havebeen won or lost depending on the outcome of a presentation. Non-profits and volunteer organizations have wonfunding or folded up their tents depending on their performance in a presentation. Presentations matter. And it issomething very worthy of our commitment and lifelong study.You dont need to be brilliant to succeed as a speaker, just dedicated to do the research and practice. Audiencesare supportive of novice speakers if the speaker has prepared.Seek and utilize feedback. Understand that no presentation or presenter (yes, even you!) is perfect. Aim forcontinuous improvement, and understand that there are two best ways to improve. First, record yourpresentations as you rehearse. Video is great. Second, solicit candid feedback from as many people as you can.Make sure your coaches are not afraid to speak up. You love your material and you want to include all of it–-butespecially for a brief talk you need someone you trust to help you murder your darlings.Act and speak ethically. Since public speaking fears are so common, realize the tremendous power of influencethat you hold. Use this power responsibly. Writing this sentence in Berlin, Germany.You never know what you can do until you do it. - Rudolf Dreikurs 13