Week 5

5.01 - Organizing Your Presentation


Public speaking is challenging for most people. There are a few out there who are totally comfortable getting up in front of a group of people to give a speech or presentation, but they’re the exception to the rule. Unfortunately, there are going to be times where you’re required to stand up and give an important presentation – maybe one that will help you to advance in your career or aid your company in making a big breakthrough.

While it’s difficult to wipe out nerves completely, there are plenty of tactics to reduce them and make speaking in front of a crowd easier. The most important of these tactics happens way before the presentation ever does: preparation. An organized, well-prepared presentation makes standing up and talking about any subject easier. Affirm your authority when you stand up to speak by organizing your thoughts and knowledge in a way that is cohesive and easy to present.

Introduce your subject

The tone of your presentation will depend on to whom you’re presenting and where you are, but if you can open with an alarming or interesting fact, statistic, quote, story, or question, you can grab the audience’s attention right from the beginning. Mention the points that you’ll touch on throughout the presentation so that your audience will know what to expect. This will help you stick to your points, and give them a feel for where you’re going and how you plan to get there.

Cover your points thoroughly

You won’t always cover points in exactly the same way. It all depends on what your presentation is about. There are a few different, logical ways to approach your main points, including chronologically, comparatively, spatially, or presenting a problem and its solution. Take the time to assess your topic and decide which way makes the most sense for ease of understanding, as well as ease of delivery. Try to give your talking points fair and equal time based on importance.

Wrap it up

In your conclusion, you want to quickly remind everyone of the most important points that you’ve made and give them something by which they’ll remember your presentation. Another strong fact, statistic, or an important conclusion that you’ve drawn from the information presented is a good way to tie everything up. Keep your conclusion short, sweet; and succinct.

The glue

Bet you weren’t expecting anything after the conclusion! Transitions are an important part of your presentation. They’re what holds everything together and makes the presentation feel seamless. Try to find links between your points to help segue from one to the other naturally. For example, you might say, “Now that we’ve discussed how to organize a presentation, let’s move on to why it’s so important to have an organizational strategy.” A link like this lets your audience know that you’re moving on, but still feels natural.

Organize Your Speech with TIES

A strategy I have developed for my clients is to remember TIES. Check out our newest video to learn how you can be organized and concise whether it is for a quick update or a longer presentation.

No one ever said public speaking would be easy, but making it more comfortable for yourself can reduce your fear and boost your confidence. Looking for more public speaking tips? Check out our video library, or contact us to learn more.

5.02 - Giving a Powerpoint Presentation

PowerPoint presentations can be effective visual aids for your speech or presentation. However, it’s important to learn how to balance your speech with your visual aids to avoid letting the PowerPoint presentation take over. There are two parts to preparing for your visual presentation: creating an effective PowerPoint and learning to speak with it.

Effective PowerPoint Strategy

  • Font – Your font should be large and easy to read from the back of the room. Yes, script fonts are pretty, but they aren’t effective on a large screen in front of a group. If you want people to be able to read your text, make sure that it’s large and clear. Arial and Verdana are examples of easy to read fonts.

  • Colors – Your colors should be striking, but not distracting. Avoid using super bright colors and make sure that you use contrast to your advantage. Text is easier to read if it’s placed on a contrasting color. Remember that colorblind individuals may have trouble with red or green.

  • Remote – Get a remote for your presentation. This will help you to avoid running back and forth to the computer, and allow you to go back a slide in case one of the audience members misses something important. Please don't fidget with the remote or point it at the audience! Dancing beams are distracting.

  • Content – Make sure that the content of your presentation supports your speech but isn’t word for word. Never read directly from your PowerPoint. You will lose your audience’s attention quickly. Also, limit your text to 4-5 rows so the audience can read it. Avoid placing important logos or information at the very bottom of the screen. Depending on the venue, the bottom of the screen may be obstructed by people's heads!

  • Pictures - Attempt to use more pictures than text to make it interesting. A picture is worth a thousand words!

Effective Speaking Strategy

  • Use your notes – Have notes available especially as a back-up for technical difficulties. You can even insert presenter notes into your PowerPoint if you are at a lectern and can look at your laptop. You will see it on your screen, but your audience will not.

  • Know your content – The better you know what you’re talking about, the easier it will be to follow along with the PowerPoint. Practice your speech, or even a particular slide, aloud multiple times (alone and to other people) so you’re able to easily recall any information. It’s also helpful to be able to pick up from any point in your speech.

  • Move with purpose – Eyes track movement, so people will naturally look at you if you start walking around or moving during your presentation. Make sure that when you want people to look at your slides, you’re standing still, and when you want people to pay attention to you, you move with purpose. You should also practice not fidgeting.

  • Watch out for the lights - Be careful and avoid standing in front of your slides. You will become a dark shadow!

  • Limit distractions - If you're not referring to your slides, and engaging in a different activity, black out the screen by typing "B," or white out with "W."

  • Record yourself – Or have someone record you giving your speech with the presentation behind you. Pay attention to a few things: how often you reference the PowerPoint, when you overuse certain words, and whenever you use a filler word (like, um, uh, etc). This may be nerve-wracking at first, but it’ll pay off in the long run. There is also a recording option in your PowerPoint presentation.

Remember, your PowerPoint slides should enhance your presentation, not BE the presentation!

Want to learn more about effective public speaking and presentations? At Successfully Speaking, we have the tools to help!

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