There’s one major mistake that prevents us from giving effective presentations: We tend to focus on what we’re going to say rather than how we’re going to say it.
When asked to present, we mistakenly spend most of our time thinking—and rethinking—content. Indeed, developing content can easily become a never-ending cycle of revisions and second guessing yourself.
To make matters worse, most presenters don’t realize they have two obstacles working against them:
- The average audience member has an eight-second attention span.
- The average presenter forgets at least 25% of his/her planned content.
What should you do? To achieve effective communication, you need to create a clear, concise, compelling story—and tell it with conviction.
As a presenter, your body language and nonverbal communications have an enormous impact on approval ratings and business success.
Here are some tips on how to give a memorable presentation:
- Develop a key-word outline on note cards or in PowerPoint speaker’s notes and use it to prompt your memory.
- Rehearse your presentation out loud in a conversational tone—one similar to ordinary conversation.
- Change your presentation a little every time you practice it so it doesn’t get stale.
- If possible, practice in the room where you intend to present.
- Do not memorize or read your presentation.
- Present standing up and make eye contact with your audience.
- Use vocal inflection by varying your pitch, pace and projection.
- Display natural gestures and move with purpose.
You never want to shortchange your content. Just remember that it’s not king—but you will be if you present it well.
Before you act . . .
The theory of state-dependent learning posits that you recall information best if you are in the same physical and emotional state in which you learned the information. The theory also suggests that you will perform better if you are in the same “state of being” when you practice as when you perform. So, whenever possible, practice your presentation in the exact same way you plan to present it.