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Top 10: powerful presentations

1: engage the audience – it’s often not what you do, it’s how you do it.  Use a range of engagement devises: visuals, props, questions, demonstrations, storytelling…

2: avoid death by powerpoint – by all means use powerpoint, but use it imaginatively! Use visuals, colour, movement…, and when/if using text, remember…

3: less is more – fewer words, fewer sentences, less text.  Remember, it is meant to be a visual aid!!

4: why are they there? – what do they want to know?  what do you want to tell them?  Make sure your presentation answers both or either of these questions

5: use hooks – a hook is a verbal or visual tag that helps you create interest; explain the point you are making; and makes the message more memorable.  Music can do this very effectively, too….

6:  beginning – use this 5-point starter: welcome; name; purpose + timescale; questions now or later; support material.  “Good morning!  My name’s Arnie, and I’d like to spend the next 20 minutes ………  If you have any questions, please save them for the Q&A session at the end, when you can also pick up a copy of this presentation, if you wish”  Something along these lines, tailored to your taste and style – but worth learning as a mantra, to help you over those initial nerves

7: prepare – 5 key things to think about -and get right:  audience (who, why, size); topic (what, why, how); venue (where, seating, lighting, facilities); aids (equipment, technology, plan b if it fails); me (clothing, water, notes, positive state management)

8: initial eye contact – if you’re nervous, then get yourself ready to start, and when you’re ready: think of something that gives you pleasure in life…anything…. are you  thinking of something now?  And if so, are you smiling?  THAT’s the smile you need to start your presentation – one that comes from within, and is natural.  So keep that image in mind, and as you are ready to start – switch quickly but briefly to that image, look at your audience, and say…”good morning..” (or whatever). You will show them a relaxed and happy face…

9: difficult questions – there are four good ways of dealing with a difficult question: 1) say you don’t know, and leave it at that; 2) say you don’t know but offer to find out (this commits you to extra work – but also provides you with a reason for a follow up conversation….); 3) say you don’t know, but guess – eg “I don’t know, but my guess would be….” – then it’s up to your questioner whether it is acceptable or not (most will be happy with this); 4) say you don’t know, but ask if anyone in the audience has the answer….

10: closing – think about how you want to end.  During questions, it’s a good idea to say ‘”I’ll take one more, and then we’ll close” – this lets everyone know we’re coming to an end.  Then, at the very end – thank them for coming, listening, participating (whichever is most appropriate); remind them to pick up any materials; tell them what happens next, and (if using visual aids) leave your contact details on the screen, with a ‘thank you’.

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