Making a Winning Presentation

winning pres

Most people get nervous before a presentation. It happens whether you are a student, trainer or an eloquent speaker. Tension and anxiety are common symptoms when you will have to face an audience. However, when you have a well-prepared topic and have all the pre-presentation points covered (see my post on Pre-Presentation Tips), delivering the talk will be a cakewalk for anyone.

You will only have to focus on few points like those mentioned in this post and without doubt, you will make a winning presentation. Then, all it will require is your elegant self to take the stage and it’s Showtime!

Three Factors to consider for making a winning presentation

  • Getting Started
  • It’s Showtime
  • Closing
Getting Started

At times, the most difficult part of doing anything is getting started. If what ought to be in order is organized and under control, things become super easy. Here are few points to put into practice before you start your presentation.

  • Make sure you arrive at the venue well ahead of time. This will save you from unexpected traffic or parking issues and finding the venue in case you are new to the area
  • Freshen up if you need to; check your hair, make-up, attire, tie or scarf to make sure they are in place.
  • Get hold of yourself. Be composed and relaxed
  • Check the hall where you will have your presentation. Get a feel of the room.
  • Check the equipment that you will need to use. See that everything is functioning properly. If you are using a video or audio, play it again to make sure it is working
  • Arrange your materials – handouts, case study or activity sheets in proper order, so that you give the right material to participants as per the slides
  • Check the flow of slides once again. Ensure that they are in the right order and are visible from different points in the hall
  • If you are early, walk around and talk to people. Get to know them. This will give you a feeling of warmth and welcome and will reduce your nervousness.
  • Get something to drink and wear your smile
It’s Showtime

It is time to get into action. Remember that as you are walking onto the stage, people are watching you and judging you. Before they reach a conclusion about you, you need to get their attention and interest. Here are few tips that will help you make an impressive presentation.

  • Start with a strong opening; the intention is to grab the attention of the audience, the first few minutes are crucial to get the audience to your side.
  • Be confident, make eye contact, give attention to each participant and try to connect with them
  • Avoid standing in one place; move around but not so much that it causes discomfort to the participants.
  • Talk convincingly, put your emotions into what you are talking and believe in your words. Appeal to the emotions of the audience
  • Keep the content relevant to the audience and focused on the objectives. Do not drift away from the main topic. Avoid talking too much or too fast
  • Do not be anxious to give your information, observe reaction from participants; their body language and expressions. Do you get the feeling that they are bored or showing the ‘I know it all’ attitude? Change your delivery style. Get them active and engage them with an activity, group discussion or ask them to share their experience.
  • Tell stories, interesting facts and current trends relating to the topic. Blend humor where necessary. Nevertheless, be careful in sharing a joke or a story. Wrong timing for jokes or stories will cause embarrassment
  • Do not crowd your slides with information. Show one point at the time on the slide to retain audience interest, otherwise they will be reading the slides than listening to you
  • Do not try to convince the participants with your ideas. Ask for their opinions too.
  • Use videos and pictures that are informative and that would help participants to take future action; do not overload information
  • Avoid using jargons or terms that the audience will not understand
  • Give small gifts as a token of appreciation for active participants. Hold their interest and keep them motivated
  • Remember not to read from the slides or look into prompters often. Use pointers if you need to call to attention some point on the PowerPoint. Use PowerPoint only as a tool for your presentation and not as a support mechanism.
Body language, Delivery Style and Tone
  • Remember you are passing on messages with your gestures, hand movements and posture. Be conscious of your body language
  • Face the audience, stand in a comfortable position, do not lean on table, chair, or toy with your finger rings. Wriggling your fingers, tapping the table with a marker pen, adjusting your blazer often are some examples of distracting the audience
  • Use simple language, avoid complicated and wordy sentences
  • Speak clearly and in a distinct audible voice
  • Avoid overuse of words like Umm, So, I mean, But, Actually and so on. It will irritate the audience and further they might start counting the number of times you say those words than concentrating on the content
  • Take care of voice modulation and pitch in your voice. Monotonous tone will put your audience to sleep. Add spice to your talk with suitable pauses, appropriate nods, word stress and call to action. Make them curious and intrigued to know what you are going to say next
  • Keep your smile on, maintain eye contact and show genuine interest in participants
  • Most importantly, be aware of the culture and sentiments of the participants

The difficult part is over or so you think! Closing with style is as much important as the opening. Here are few tips for you.

  • Summarize the topic with the main points and give a worthwhile conclusion
  • Choose your closing words such that they leave the participants thinking or encourage them into action
  • Show energy during Questions & Answers session. Answer the questions with ease, clarity and positive attitude.
  • Thank the participants and leave your contact details in case they need to get in touch with you. Inform them about access to further information on the topic
  • Prepare a feedback form for your benefit and if time permits pass it around after your session or give your e-mail id and request participants to send you a feedback
  • Leave your business card and/or brochures/leaflets/PPT with the organizers and inform participants to take it if interested

Click here to download a checklist for making a winning presentation Winning Presentation Checklist

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