Every presenter starts by focusing on content. As he or she gets more comfortable the focus switches to connecting with the audience. The pro focuses on learning from the audience what works and what doesn’t. Here are some things I’ve learned from roughly 3000 presentations.
6 Presentation Tips
1. Ask the audience what they want to know. You know approximately what you want to tell them but what do they want to learn? If you hit most of the points they’re interested in you’ve done an excellent job of researching the audience. After the body of your presentation ask what you didn’t cover.
2. Younger audiences loathe Power Point. Boomers love it — the more complicated the better. The latter would run movie clips in every presentation except for copyright restrictions. Keep the PP big and bold and don’t use sound effects unless they are absolutely essential.
3. Start with the punch line. Younger audiences hate “once upon a time” starts. Give the conclusion and explain why. Open for questions. Many Boomers now want the most important points first. Give a link to a website for background information and save trees!
4. Express a well-reasoned point of view. Why is what you’ve said important? (Even fringe politicians do this — or try to.) Suggest ways to use the information. Again, ask how they’d apply what you’ve told them.
5. Humor is tricky. Never spring an unfunny joke on an audience. You’ll die in the five-second silence. Sarcasm is for fashion commentators. No swear words please! Your vocabulary has to include more colorful words with more letters.
6. Solicit feedback. Don’t think because no one complained you were a hit. If someone offers a suggestion take it very seriously. Honest feedback is priceless and very difficult to get. Cherish every word someone offers.
Practice from a detailed outline. NEVER rely on your memory or spontaneity to get your through. Use video equipment and critique each take. This is the only way to see if you have annoying verbal tics such as saying, “Ah,” or “Like.”
If all else fails, take some speech classes. Pay a speech coach to critique you. That has been most helpful for me. Finally, get an frenemy to critique you. People who don’t like you will help you more than friends.
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