Tips and Advice from Presentation Professionals
By Marlene Chism
The more you know, the more difficult it is to develop the content of your presentation. The paradox of speech development is this: It can be overwhelming to condense years of knowledge into a one-hour presentation and the anxiety that you feel might have more to do with the development phase rather than the delivery.
Symptoms of "development anxiety" include the following:
* Procrastinating (avoiding prep time.)
* Justifying the procrastination by saying, "I'm better off the cuff."
* Dreading the presentation and feeling confused.
* Spending needless hours scripting and reworking a speech.
* Confusing the audience because of a lack of order.
* Letting the audience decide the direction of the presentation
Here are some tips to help you in the development process of speaking.
Analyze your audience
The success or failure of your presentation is determined by whether or not you are speaking to the right audience. A quick way to get to the heart of the matter with your audience is to ask yourself this question: "where is their pain, and how do I help to solve that pain?"
If you don't know what their pain is, or if you have nothing in common, or no way to help relieve their "pain" then it's helpful to do an audience analysis. There are several ways to analyze your audience, including researching their association or business website to gain insights, conducting sample interviews within various levels of the organization, and discovering what you have in common with the members.
Be savvy enough to determine where your views might conflict with theirs so that you can address any potential challenges or filter your presentation to gain trust. Remember this: You may deliver the best speech in America but if your audience speaks Spanish, it won't be valid.
Start with purpose
Why are you there to speak? What gives you the right to address this audience, client or group of people? Your purpose may be to entertain, to educate, to persuade, to motivate, to close a sale or a combination of several objectives. Your presentation should flow from your purpose and the needs of your audience, whether that audience is one client, a group of prospects or a breakout session at a conference. One of the worst mistakes a speaker can make is to be unclear about the purpose of the presentation. As the business philosopher Jim Rohn says, "Don't come to the market place with your needs." In other words, remember that it's not about you; it's about them and their needs.
Organize your thoughts
Before you waste needless hours scripting and restructuring, it's important to let the creative juices flow. Get all ideas out of your mind and on paper before you create an outline or script. (Too many ideas cluttering your mind will have you spending endless hours rearranging your presentation.) A convenient method is the "cluster technique." In a circle in the middle of a page, write down your general subject matter. Draw lines from the middle circle, (like spokes on a bike) and on those lines branching out, write ideas or points that you might consider using in your speech. You can then branch off from the main spokes to create sub points or useful examples. When you feel drained of all ideas, select and eliminate topics from the list, keeping only relevant ones. In addition, you want to determine how you are going to involve the audience and if you are going to have a theme, play some educational games, use visuals and so on.
Develop the body first
Every presentation has three essential components: an opening, a body, and a closing. Since the body is the longest part of the presentation, developing it first will save you time and allow you to create an opening and a closing that tie together.
Select a framework to help you develop the body of your presentation. A framework is simply an organizational tool. Some frameworks for organization include
* A personal story
* Three main points
* Comparison and contrast
* Past present and future (in any order.)
Another easy framework to use in developing the body is an acronym. For example I often use the TOAD acronym when explaining what makes "presentations croak. " The "TOAD" acronym stands for, Timing, Organization, Audience, and Delivery. The TOAD acronym is the body of the speech with three minutes devoted to each topic.
Develop the opening and closing last
Your opening should start with a bang. Don't make the common mistakes in openings, which include lazy statements such as "Good morning" or "how are you today? Did you enjoy last nights dinner?" Instead, use a quote or a clever statement. For example, a financial planner might start out by saying "A penny saved is a penny earned. I'm not here to talk about pennies. I'm here to talk about how to make a fortune without pinching pennies." A startling statistic is a way to make an opening statement relevant, for example, "Over 40 million Americans are functionally illiterate. To break it down that means that out of this room, one third of you can't read a prescription on your medicine bottle or write a note to your child's teacher."
Once you have created your opening statement, you can develop it further to transition into the body of your presentation. Your development might be a short example, a personal story or a fact or statistic. Once you have your opening statement, you can use that as a framework for your closing. The financial planner could end by saying, "So as you can see, a penny isn't much, but now that you understand how interest compounds, you can earn a fortune without pinching pennies." When you have developed your entire speech create an outline so that you can practice into a tape recorder.
Listen and transition
As you listen to your recorded speech, you will notice gaps, repetition, and places where the presentation seems to jump off track. These places call for editing and transitional statements. Transitions make your delivery smooth and can connect even contrary points used in the body of your speech. Look at the example below to see how the transition ties in points one and two:
* Point #1
There is more to customer service than communication.
* Point #2
Trust is an important element of customer service.
* Transitional statement:
Communication is important, but without trust it is virtually useless.
Using this process to develop your presentation saves you time, prevents development anxiety, keeps you on track but most of all you will stay on purpose and connect with your audience.
Marlene Chism of ICARE Presentations
Marlene Chism works with companies that want to build strong business relationships and with people who want to be better communicators. For more information visit the web at www.icareconsult.com or you can call 417. 831.1799