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The Presentation This is it, big moment when you tell your audience what a clever person you are and have them leap to their feet in thunderous applause. Okay, let's step back a bit - if you want their applause then you're going to have to work for it. Right from start your delivery needs to grab their attention. Don't start by saying - "Good morning, my name is Fred Bloggs and I'm from Bloggs and Company." Even if your name is Bloggs, it's a dead boring way to start a presentation. Far better to start with some interesting facts or an anecdote that is relevant to your presentation. Look at audience as individuals; I appreciate that this can be difficult when some of them are downright ugly. However it grabs their attention if they think you're talking to them individually. Talk louder than you would normally do, it keeps people in front row awake and makes sure those at back get message. Funnily enough, it's also good for your nerves.
PowerPoint And for those of you who haven't heard of it, it's a software programme that's used to design stunning graphics and text for projection onto a screen. As a professional speaker, I'm not that struck on PowerPoint. I feel that too many speakers rely on it and it takes over presentation. After all, you're important factor here. If an audience is going to accept what you say then they need to see whites of your eyes. There needs to be a big focus on you, not on technology. Use PowerPoint if you want but keep it to a minimum and make sure you're not just person pushing buttons. Why not get a bit clever at using faithful old Flip Chart, lots of professionals do.
Passion This is what stops audience in their tracks. This is what makes them want to employ you; to accept what you're proposing and make them want you to marry their son or daughter. Couple this with some energy, enthusiasm and emotion and you have makings of a great public speaker. Just think of our old friend Adolph Hitler, boy could he move an audience to action. It's just too bad he was selling something that wasn't to everyone's liking. Give your presentation a bit of oomph and don't start telling me - "I'm not that kind of person." There's no need to go over top but you're doing a presentation to move people to action, not having a cosy little chat in your front room.
That's P's finished with so let's look at Q's.
Questions Decide when you're going to take them and tell people at start. In a short speech it's best to take questions at end. If you take them as you go then you may get waylaid and your timing will get knocked out. Never - never - never finish with questions; far better to ask for questions five or ten minutes before end. Deal with questions and then summarise for a strong finish. Too many presentations finish on questions and whole thing goes a bit flat. When you're asked a question, repeat it to whole audience and thank questioner. It keeps everyone involved, it gives you time to think and it makes you look so clever and in control.
Quit Quit when you're ahead. Stick to agreed time; if you're asked to speak for twenty minutes, speak for nineteen and audience will love you for it. Remember, quality is not quantity. One of most famous speeches ever - "The Gettysburg Address", by President Lincoln, was just over two minutes long. Right, that's my cue to quit when I'm ahead. Public Speaking will never be easy for most of us but we can all do it a whole lot better.
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