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Public Speaking - Top 10 Tips Part II

Jul 29, 2008
Know that public speaking is the number one human fear. So if you have ever been or are a bit nervous about giving presentations in public, realize you are not alone. Most people have the same problem. Continued below is our Top 10 tips to making presenting easy and comfortable for both you and the audience.

Tip No. 6: Delivering visuals

So now you have a nice, clearly designed visual. How do you mechanically deal with that visual? What do you do physically to present it to the audience? Should you look at the visual? Should you talk to the screen? Should you not talk to the screen?

We suggest that you keep the following things in mind when it comes to delivery with visuals: As soon as your visual is presented on the screen, whether it be from a laptop, or from a slide projector, or even from an overhead projector, your audience will immediately focus one hundred per cent of their attention on the screen.

So you effectively disappear from the room. You vaporize. You could drop your pants, you can blow your nose - it doesn't matter, because until everyone in the audience has figured out for themselves exactly what all that information means, you're effectively not there.

Tip No. 7: Effects

Keep in mind: if there are too many bells and whistles, if there is too much movement, if there are too many sounds, if there are too many things going on, people will be more interested in figuring out how to do that with their own presentations then they will be in the actual knowledge you are presenting.

And that's if your dramatic appliqués are good. Most of the time, effects just add confusion, or worse yet, disconnection. Make sure that your message is more important and of value to the audience than the design features of your presentation.

Tip No. 8: Pointers

We still see some people using the old wooden pointer. We have seen people actually snap that wooden pointer in half. We have also seen people play collapsible pointers like an accordion. The point is, you don't need a pointer.

An effectively designed and delivered presentation eliminates the need for pointers of any kind. Your data should call attention to themselves. Laser pointers seem to be very popular these days, but very rarely does anybody in the audience like them. In fact, they are pretty annoying to most people and even a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon can't hold those things still.

Tip No. 9: Hardware

One of the things that you definitely want to make sure is that you show up early to your presentation. Make sure all of the equipment is in working order, the overhead projector, the laptop whatever it is you are using. Check everything out yourself. Just because the banquet manager came in ten minutes ago and told you everything was working last night doesn't mean it is actually going to work.

We can't tell you how many times, and we've traveled everywhere from India to Indiana teaching seminars, somebody told us something was working, and it did not.

So for that reason you have to show up early and make sure everything is working. Make sure that you can actually work it. Make sure that you actually see it working. It is up to you and it is your responsibility because when you start your presentation you can't say say, "Well you know, somebody in the banquet department told me just a few minutes ago that this was working." Don't be embarrassed. Don't be caught off guard.

Tip No. 10: The Q&A process

This process can be very, very difficult because when you are making a presentation, you are in essence in control. You have designed that presentation. You have created some excellent visuals. You know your presentation well enough to know what's coming next.

The problem with Q&A is that it is the unknown. You don't know what is going to happen. Somebody can throw you a question out of left field. Perhaps someone can make you look bad. There is so many unknowns that we need a system to be able to deal with that unknown, and be sure that you look good in the process.

One of the first things you need to know is what to do when somebody asks you a negative question. Many of us were taught to repeat the question back to the questioner. Do you suppose there might be something else we could do other then repeat a negative question? If you repeat that negative question, what are you doing? You are in essence confirming that it might be true.

Now actually repeating a question is not always a bad idea. It gives you time to think. It gives the rest of the audience a chance to hear what the question is. But if the question imparts a negative, there is another way.

Instead of repeating the question verbatim, try this: Listen closely to the question so that you are hearing not just the words, but the essence of the question. Ask yourself what is at the kernel of the question when all the negative, inaccurate, untrue or personal agenda items are stripped away. Then rephrase the question around that kernel, signaling to the audience that you are actually searching deeper into the topic that the questioner did!

Because Q&A typically is the last thing that happens in a presentation, it is so important and vital you end on a positive note. We can't tell you how many times a presentation which started off well didn't end that way, because it all fell apart in Q&A.
About the Author
J. Douglas Jefferys is a principal at PublicSpeakingSkills.com, an international consulting firm specializing in training businesses of all sizes to communicate for maximum efficiency. The firm spreads its unique knowledge through on-site classes, public seminars, and high-impact videos, and can be reached through the Internet or at 888-663-7711.
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