Do you hate public speaking?
Most people who do have some fear of essentially making a fool of themselves or the audience not listening. These are absolutely valid fears, and can be overcome with the right strategy.
Here are two solid tips for the often overlooked key to a great presentation: content.
Tip One: Immediately ask two important questions.
1. What is your goal?
What is the point of your presentation? Is it to inform or influence? The bottom line is what do you want your audience to do after you have spoken to them? It is critical to know your end game. It is the foundation of your presentation.
2. What does your audience need/want to hear?
This is not what you want to tell them. They do not need to hear everything you know about the subject. This is solely focused on your audience – what do they need?
This is the biggest culprit of losing an audience. How – by trying to put too much information into your presentation. Do not exceed your audience’s ability to absorb information.
Tip Two: Keep your points to no more than five (general rule of thumb).
Yes, really, five. If you scoff at this number, try a little test. Ask people around you to list off as many points as they can from presentations they have heard. How many points did they remember? I will be dollars to donuts that five points is the most.
How to get to those five. First, list of all the important factors your audience needs to know or hear. Write as many things as you can think of in this first list. After you have compiled this list, rank the items in order of importance.
Your top five are you’re your critical points and the structure of your presentation. Other points may be important and can be used as bonus collateral, like handouts or follow up emails.
Bonus Tip One: Say more with less.
We naturally write more words than we speak when conveying a message. (A lot has to do with not being able to use our voice or body language, but that is another story.) When compiling your presentations, focus on key words. Do not memorize whole streams of thought or sentences. If you don’t say them exactly as you practiced or memorized, you might feel like you ‘messed up’ and it will throw you off.
Know the key concepts and practice a natural flow between them. Let your words change, get comfortable with a bit of variation.
Bonus Tip Two: Practice, practice, practice – with a twist.
The best practice is videotaping yourself once you get comfortable with your content and delivery. But throw this into the mix: ask a friend or colleague, akin to your audience, to listen to your presentation.
Here is the key: after you present, don’t ask them how you did. Ask them what they got out of it or what they thought were the main points.
If their points match yours, awesome! If their list does not match yours – go back for ruthless editing. Look at the points they missed – did you say too much, is there a simpler way to convey your message? Is it really important? Were you rushing through and not allowing them to absorb all the points?
Boring presentation breakthrough starts with knowing your goals and the audience’s needs. Do the heavy lifting of strategy and your audience will hear and remember your message. And not looking like a fool? Confidence through practice and a genuine interest in your topic will prevent that.
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