Without exception, all good presenters have one thing in common, enthusiasm, both for their subject and for the business of presenting it. Enthusiasm is infectious. Audiences canít help but be affected by it. And the best public speakers always make what they say sound as if it really matters. They know that if it matters to them, it will matter to their audience.
Many things contribute to the success of a presentation - new and unusual content, a clear structure, a good sense of timing, imaginative use of visual aids, the ability to make people laugh ... and think. But above and beyond all of these is enthusiasm. What kind of language and what kind of techniques will best show your enthusiasm for your subject?
The basics of introducing your topic, structuring your talk and referring to visual aids make a presentation sound dynamic and enthusiastic. They reflect the main key skills employed by all effective presenters.
Pay attention tovoice and delivery.As a presenter, the ability to pace your speech and use your voice to create impact is the single most important skill you need. You will be more effective if you are in control of your voice by your use of stress, pausing, intonation, volume, and silence.
Content Languageis of great importance.You canít give a good presentation unless you have something to say. Being confident about your content is crucial.
Rhetorical Techniqueis one of the ways to success.Once you are in charge of both your voice and your content you can start to think about how best to present your subject. Choose the techniques that suit you best and work on perfecting them.
Perhaps the most unpredictable part of a presentation is the question session. This may be after your talk or you may invite questions during it. But successful Question Handlingneeds thorough preparation, thinking over the possible questions and even training.
If you give presentations in English regularly and want to improve your style, go through the contents list with your teacher first and decide which areas to concentrate on.
When you give short presentations in class, take the time to prepare your notes thoroughly with any visuals you might need. Donít be afraid to read out some of the most important or complicated parts of your talk. As long as you read them well and keep good eye contact with your audience, this can be very effective.
If you can, get a friend or colleague to listen to you giving short presentations yourself. Try recording some of your talks and compare yourself with the experienced speakers.
To become a good presenter:
∑ LEAVE NOTHING TO CHANCE
Check everything before you are due to speak - room, seating, visibility, acoustics and equipment.
∑ KNOW EXACTLY HOW TO START
Plan the first minute of your presentation down to the last detail. Try to memorize your opening words. This will help you to sound confident and in control.
∑ GET STRAIGHT TO THE POINT
Donít waste time on long boring introductions. Try to make at least one powerful statement in the first two minutes.
∑ TALK TO YOUR AUDIENCE
Many of the best presentations sound more like conversations. So, keep referring back to your audience, ask them questions, respond to their reactions.
∑ KNOW WHAT WORKS
Certain things are always popular with an audience: personal experiences, stories with a message, dramatic comparisons, amazing facts they didnít know. Use them to the full.
∑ BE CONCISE
Keep your sentences short and simple. Use deliberate pauses to punctuate your speech.
∑ SPEAK NATURALLY
Donít be afraid to hesitate when you speak, but make sure you pause in the right places. Remember, you are not an actor trying to remember lines. A certain amount of hesitation is actually quite natural.
∑ KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Speak for your audience, not yourself. Take every opportunity to show how much common ground you share with them. Address their goals, their needs, their concerns.
∑ TREAT YOUR AUDIENCE AS EQUALS
Never talk down (or up) to your audience. Treat them as equals, no matter who they are.
∑ BE YOURSELF
As far as possible, speak to five hundred people in much the same way you would speak to five. You will obviously need to project yourself more, but your personality shouldnít change.
∑ TAKE YOUR TIME
Whenever you make a really important point, pause and let the full significance of what you have said sink in . . . before you move on.
∑ DONíT MAKE A SPECIAL EFFORT TO BE FUNNY
If you make a joke, donít stop and wait for laughs. Keep going and let the laughter (if it comes) interrupt you.
∑ LET YOUR VISUALS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES
Good visuals are just that - visual. Donít put boring tables of figures and long lines of text on the overhead and read them out. Stick to the main points. Experiment with three-dimensional charts, cartoons, interesting typefaces - anything to catch your audienceís attention.
∑ NEVER COMPETE WITH YOUR VISUALS
When showing a visual, keep quiet and give people time to take it in. Then make brief comments only. Point to the relevant parts of the visual as you speak. If you want to say more, switch off your projector to do so.
∑ DEVELOP YOUR OWN STYLE
Learn from other public speakers, but donít try to copy them. Be comfortable with your own abilities. Donít do anything that feels unnatural for you, just because it works for someone else.
∑ ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE
The secret of being an excellent speaker is to enjoy the experience of speaking - try to enjoy the experience!
∑ WELCOME QUESTIONS FROM YOUR AUDIENCE
When members of your audience ask you a question, it is usually because they have a genuine interest in what you are saying and want to know more. Treat questions as an opportunity to get your message across better.
∑ FINISH STRONGLY
When you are ready to finish your presentation, slow down, and lower your voice. Look at the audience and deliver your final words slowly and clearly. Pause, let your words hang in the air a moment longer, smile, say Thank you and then sit down.
Exercise 2.Fill in the gaps with necessary words from the text.
1. The most Ö part of a presentation is the question session.
2. Prepare your notes thoroughly with any Ö you might need.
3. Treat your audience as Ö, no matter who they are.
4. When members of your audience ask you a question, it is usually because they have a Ö interest in what you are saying.
5. You will Ö need to project yourself more.
6. They will make a presentation sound Ö
7. Choose the Ö that suit you best and work on perfecting them.
Exercise 3. This is what the American writer Steven Silbiger writes about presentations (or public speaking) in his book, The Ten Day MBA, The Mini-Course On Public Speaking.
1. Know your audience. Their interests, attention span2. Know your own capabilities. Can you deliver a joke?3. Keep it simple. 4. Detailed information is best delivered in print.5. Speeches should be delivered concept and motivate.
According to Steven Silbiger, are the following true or false?
1. You shouldnít allow the audience to influence what you say.
2. You should always use humour in your presentation.
3. Presentations should be about ideas.
4. There should always be lots of facts and figures.
5. Presentations should inspire people.
Exercise 4.Below you will find a number of ways of stating the purpose of your presentation. Complete them using the words given. Combining the sentences with the number 1 will give you a complete introduction. Then do the same with those numbered 2 etc.
OK, let's get started. Good morning, everyone. Thanks for coming. I'm (your name).