“If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”
Here are some expert tips to help you prepare for success.
1. Be clear about the message you are trying to convey
The clarity of your message has a big impact on your audience. But often, speakers make too many points, or are themselves unclear about the message they want their audience to take away with them.
It is important that the information you are trying to convey is clear and concise. It also helps if you have a strong emotional connection to your message, because your audience will always remember how you made them feel.
With thanks to Jamie Smart, Innate Thinking
2. Get your words off the slides
Studies show that people cannot take in information if it’s presented simultaneously in both oral and written form, as it causes information overload and boredom.
Rather than writing down the facts you want to present, use images to support what you’re saying. A striking photograph will help people to respond emotionally and is a much more effective way to support your argument.
3. Learn the information you’re presenting
Don’t memorise a script. Instead, learn the information you’re presenting. This will stop you from worrying about your presentation going off-course, and makes it easier for you to react to your audience’s questions.
Remember: sometimes the most interesting things come from discussions that weren’t planned at all.
With thanks to Andy Atalla, atom42
4. Avoid brainstorming
If you think that asking your audience to brainstorm your subject will make the presentation interactive, think again!
Brainstorming can take many different forms but it is a method that only really appeals to creative-type people, and even they will easily tire of it. To make a truly interactive presentation, try to include a variety of exercises, including quizzes, group tasks and story-telling.
With thanks to Hugh Williams, Hughenden Consulting
5. Correct your slides before you give a presentation
Having to apologise for a bad slide sends one clear message to your audience: “I couldn’t be bothered to fix it”.
This will annoy your audience, especially as they struggle through the next five minutes of your presentation without being able to see the graph you are referring to.
Unfortunately, people who are annoyed don’t listen as well as people who are happy and entertained. So if you want your presentation to be a success, put in some effort!
6. Preparation matters
A good presentation should appear effortless, as nothing undermines your credibility more than your audience seeing you looking things up or shuffling between slides.
The key to creating this illusion is preparation. Before your audience arrives, put your hand-outs in ordered piles, check your sound system and flash through your slides. Do whatever it takes to ensure that the presentation runs smoothly and the credibility of your message stays intact.
7. Never trust the venue
Take your own kit as often as possible. That way you know it works and how to work it.
Nothing looks more amateur than struggling to get your presentation to appear on the big screen – to say nothing of what it will do to your nerves.
8. Don’t just practise… rehearse!
When actors memorise a play, they don’t go over it from start to finish and then mindlessly run through it again. Instead, they think about which bits they don’t know and then practise those bits over and over.
Don’t waste time reciting parts of your presentation that you already know. It’s the bits you don’t know that you need to concentrate on.
9. Use road signs to help you design your presentation
Road signs can help you to design your presentation slides, as their messages have to be obvious and immediately graspable.
If your slide wouldn’t work as a road sign, ask yourself why not and what you can do about it!
With thanks to Simon Raybould, Curved Vision
10. Have a back-up
Take a copy of your presentation on a memory stick, or store it on an online file-sharing site like Dropbox so you can download it to any PC.
With thanks to Matthew Stibbe, Articulate Marketing
What techniques do you use to prepare for your presentation?
Please leave your comments in the box below.
I don’t practice I rehearse