Tips For A Great Presentation
Giving a great presentation, one that is interactive, takes preparation and practice. Having a firm grasp of the subject matter, in this case invasive plants on a National Wildlife Refuge, and knowing what to say will go a long way in inspiring the audience.
John F. Kennedy said, "The only reason to give a speech is to change the world."
By sparking one person's interest in invasive plants or encouraging one person to volunteer at a refuge, the world can be a better place. Prepare for the presentation with this in mind.
- Know what you are going to say and why
This doesn't mean memorize a speech; have the main speaking points ready, but know the subject well enough to improvise. Know why people should listen and care.
- Practice, practice, practice
Know the slides or props and rehearse the talk ahead of time. Practice in front of a friend or family member who can give helpful feedback. If possible, practice where the presentation will take place.
- Arrive early
Get to know the room and arrange it to make it easy for the audience to interact with one another. If you are using a projector or other audio visual equipment, test it to make sure everything is in working order.
Audiences generally remember the beginning and end of the presentation the best. Of course, there can't be a beginning and end without a middle, so break up the bulk of the talk into mini-starts and finishes (1).
Engage the audience right from the start.
Maintaining the Momentum
Keep the audience engaged so they pay attention and learn.
Wrapping it Up
Inspire the audience to action.
When practicing and giving your presentation, follow these simple guidelines.
- Speak slowly
Nervousness tends to lend itself to rushing through things in order to get it over quickly. Slow down a little and let the words sink in. However don’t speak so slowly that people become anxious.
- Speak to individuals
Look for friendly faces with which to make eye contact. By directing the talk to individuals, you will engage listeners more deeply in the presentation. Remember that people generally want the speaker to do well and they will offer encouraging nods that may boost your confidence.
- Speak loudly
Know ahead of time how loudly you need to speak so that the person in the back of the room hears you talking. At the beginning, ask if the people in the back can hear ok.
Take time in between topics or important points to pause and let new concepts or ideas sink in. This also allows people to ask questions and clarify what they are learning.
- Show enthusiasm
If the speaker doesn’t care about invasive plants, why should the listeners? An enthusiastic speaker can get an audience excited about anything.
- Support slides
If giving a slide show, try not to read the text on the slides verbatim. Know the main points and speak in a conversational style.
- Don’t worry
Don’t agonize over mistakes or apologize to the audience. Act confident and proceed right through the stumbles or words misspoken. The audience forgives you.
ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE
- At the start of the presentation let the group know that you hope everyone will participate.
- Instead of having someone speak in front of the whole group, break them into smaller groups where they may feel more comfortable talking.
- Direct questions to the silent participants and reinforce their answers with positive responses.
- Give participants the option to "pass" on a question. They may feel uncomfortable answering at first but might gain confidence later in the presentation. (2)
Participants Who Talk Too Much
- Encourage others to talk more instead of discouraging the big talker.
- Present a question and ask members of the audience to provide a short answer or comment.
- Divide the audience into small groups so that it is more conducive for everyone to participate equally.
- Acknowledge comments and involve others: "Jennifer, that was an interesting perspective. Has anyone else had similar ideas or experiences?" (2)
- Bowman S. 2005. Preventing Death by Lecture. Glenbrook (NV): Bowperson Publishing Company. 96 p.
- Information adapted from The Thiagi Group. <http://www.thiagi.com/tips.html>. Accessed 2007 May 19.