When giving a presentation, there are four areas to consider to ensure that your audience gets the most value. These are: content, visuals, body language, and speech.
WHAT THEY WILL LEARN – CONTENT
Determine the purpose – decide what you want your audience to know/do with the material you are presenting. Without a clearly-defined purpose, we risk wasting an audience’s time. The purpose can be stated in planning as: “I want you to ____.” As you move through planning and practice, drop the words “I want you to” (because those words are about the speaker, not the audience). Focus on the audience (UB4I) and the material—not yourself.
Check your presentation with the purpose in mind: what information will you (not) include to make sure that your presentation achieves the desired purpose?
WHAT THEY SEE – VISUALS & BODY LANGUAGE
Include information for the audience to see when you present. In addition to what you say, people also need to see some data. Images and text support the spoken word. It is very important to be sparing with the amount of text on a slide. Too many words take the focus off the speaker, which will break rapport. Audiences build relationships with speakers, not words.
In addition to visuals, body language also supports your speech. Gestures, movement, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact all tell your audience more about the subject matter and your relationship with it. Purposeful body language adds meaning to your speech and visuals. Be aware to avoid negative body language or to minimize it (i.e. swaying, repeated hand gestures, leaning, ineffective or inappropriate eye contact).
WHAT THEY HEAR – LANGUAGE
Further your relationship with the group by speaking in your natural, authentic voice. That will come across as trustworthy. Use an easy-to-understand vocabulary to ensure that everyone in the audience understands. You don’t have to use big words for people to think you’re smart. Be appropriate, respectful, spirited, and brief.
This information is from our Advanced Presentation Skills curriculum. If you’re looking for ways to improve your communication skills, register for one of our public classes.
Photo Credit: Alex Barber.