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How Effective Are Your Presentations?

Posted June 08, 2011 11:50 AM

Surveys suggest that many people fear public speaking more than death. Yet the key to success rests with knowing your subject well and carefully preparing what you are going to say. How often do you make presentations? How comfortable are you? How do you prepare? What dos and don'ts do you adopt to ensure the best outcome? How successful have your presentations been? What would you ask of someone more experienced to help improve your performance? What advice would you give to a novice? How diligently do you take your own advice?

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Re: How Effective Are Your Presentations?

06/08/2011 10:48 PM

That is right. The human brain is a wonderful thing....it starts working even in the foetal stage, and does not stop working ... until you stand up in front of an eager audience to speak

Having said that, if you are presenting something that you love, you will be good. Your passion will show through, even with a poor powerpoint. However, a good powerpoint will make it memorable. i personally like lots of topical images, even some animated ones if needed, and a 'kicker box' at the bottom which succinctly sums up the slide with a 'take away' statement. The need to say it in maybe 4 to 8 words makes you really think and distill.

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Re: How Effective Are Your Presentations?

06/09/2011 12:09 AM

Easy. I joined Toastmasters a few months ago. Already my presentation skills have improved and my fear levels have gone down.

I'd recommend it to everyone. Incidentally our club is full of engineers.

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Re: How Effective Are Your Presentations?

06/09/2011 3:40 AM

You beat me to mentioning Toastmasters. I've been a member for 4 years and started a club in my local city.

I've talked about Toastmasters several times on CR4


and would recommend anyone seek out there nearest club and go along to find out more. Use the "Find a Club" facitlity on the website:


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Re: How Effective Are Your Presentations?

06/09/2011 2:13 PM

As I progressed from engineering to managing product lines and eventually companies, I had to speak before larger & more diversified groups and more often. Currently I speak before small groups (<20) weekly and larger groups (>100) monthly.

I am reasonably comfortable now but that was not always the case. I took a course when I worked for GE (they have a 4 step process) and have had a lot of practice before experiencing any "comfort".

Some presentations have little or no preparation, because they are on a mature subject (for me) and the visuals are available, but for new or complex presentations the preparation falls into 4 areas: First, as above states, research (know) your subject. Second, know your audience and incorporate their expectations into your presentation. Third, prepare any brief visuals or demonstrations thoroughly, but don't let them contain your total presentation so that your audience doesn't need you. They should only be a subject reminder for you. Last, rehearse only if it will help calm you, but not so that you come across as staged. You are better off just relaxing before the presentation.

I am told I give a good and motivating presentation, and most times people will seek me out immediately afterward. I am not as polished as professional speakers, but then that is not my style.

Advice? Remember, your audience almost never knows your subject as well as you do, so do not fear any minor mistakes or exclusions. Try to concentrate on your audience and their reaction to the presentation (not on how you feel) - look at them often to gauge this - it will replace your fears with a personal connection to them that will come across in your presentation. Smile often and bring a little humor (planned or spontaneous) whenever possible!

I have a tendency to follow this advice most often with prepared presentations, less so for extemporaneous ones. I'm far from perfect, you know ;-)

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Re: How Effective Are Your Presentations?

06/10/2011 12:12 PM

* The utmost important aspect is understanding the topic of presentation, type of audience, the duration.

* Given the modern tools like power point & all that, presentations have been made simple & eliminate the need of by hearting things. Simple key word headlines, points with possible demonstrative diagrams, videos, pictures should be best part of any presentation.

*A speech or a presentation with hints of salient points to be dealt are to be planned well.Presentation without proper preparations will only bring out bad reputation from the audience.

*Another important aspect is spontaneous, conscious deliveries with due response measuring of the audience is an important aspect for all speakers. A speaker should be always conscious about instant responses of the audience levels without much of personal prejudices or avoiding hurting of feelings.

*Short & sweet presentations, with blend of humour add taste to the presentation.

* Sensing saturation levels of audience is another important aspect. Time bound coverage[ not too hasty, not too slow] need to be taken care.

*Deviations from main topic are to be controlled by the speaker.

* A pleasant & impressive voice with effective energy levels throughout the delivery time span will keep the audience spirit on par.

* Moving around in the hall, interactive with audiences are extra risks one can attempt being confident about.

* A question & feed back session is worth after the delivery.

***The cheerful faces & the applaud, the total attentiveness during the delivery are self indicators of a good delivery.

*Till the age of 40 I happened to be a nervous and shaky person on stage, even in small crowds. My desperation, practice & inspiration gained from various impressive speakers had given me the chance to post in this forum[ particularly the triple starred last but one point.

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Re: How Effective Are Your Presentations?

06/15/2011 2:02 PM

Opening with a joke is probably not a good idea unless you're a professional comedian. Chances are, what you and your indulgent friends consider funny will bomb, and after this bad start you'll choke and ruin the rest of your speech. A joke also makes you look frivolous before a group of serious people.

PowerPoint slides might be good supplemental material for a handout, but projecting them will disconnect you from your audience, so I would say forget about PowerPoint. Don't put them to sleep by darkening the room and droning on reading your slides, like just about everyone else does.

Have some key phrases and statistics memorized before you go on, things you can fall back on if you forget what comes next. Don't carry notes or anything onstage, and be spontaneous and sincere. Memorizing chunks of your prepared remarks is good, but don't rely on delivering a prepared speech from memory. The audience will be able to tell that you are just repeating a script, and they will tune out.

Prepare a pdf on your subject and make that available to your audience, with all of the points you want to make thoroughly explained in that document. The speech is for a different purpose: to motivate attention and buy-in.

A brief pause before beginning helps to focus the attention on you by the suspense, and it gives time for the audience to quiet down. When you open your mouth, look out at your audience and get right to the main point. Do NOT speak into the microphone if there is one at the lectern. Arrest the attention of the audience, then speak from the heart and stimulate their interest. I repeat and emphasize: DO NOT READ TO YOUR AUDIENCE!!!

It is said that there are always three speeches: (1) the one you prepare and rehearse; (2) the one that you actually give in the heat of the moment; and (3) the much better speech you think of on the way home. So don't let that discourage you. I have spoken to large groups and to appellate courts, so I hope this battle-tested advice may be of use.

"Education is lighting a fire, not filling a bottle." -- Plutarch
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