Becoming an accomplished speaker takes a great amount of practice, preparation, and awareness of self. As with most things, practicing naturally improves your ability to perform. A beginner speaker can easily overcome fears and anxieties by simply spending a bit of time rehearsing and reviewing presentation material a week before an event. Likewise, learning a topic thoroughly enough to present it as well as knowing which presentation method and style would be most suitable for an audience is all part of preparing and organizing a speech. And self-awareness is knowing how best to incorporate body language, tone, humor and personal interface, to educate as well as engage an audience.
In striving to effectively present your ideas, much consideration should also be given to getting the most out of your aids; whether they be Powerpoint slides
, physical samples, poster boards, handouts or anything else. Knowing exactly what the Powerpoint program, for example, is good for and what it is not, will help you make the best use of it during your presentation.
Preparing your slides: what the Powerpoint presentation is and is not
The usage of Powerpoint as a visual aid in presentations is extremely common today and more than likely the majority of your audience will be accustomed to this type of media. Due to its popularity, along will all of its benefits, many not-so-beneficial uses have also emerged. The main one being the use of Powerpoint as the sole means of delivering a speech.
The key term is aid
, and when presenting with Powerpoint
it's important to remember that it is a visual aid that is in place to enhance and assist you in delivering your speech. It shouldn't be your speech. And likewise too much reliance on your slides can cause several problems during your presentation.
The biggest one is that your audience may be less focused on you and more on your slides (especially when there is a lot of information to read or distracting graphics). And secondly, because reading can get boring, as well as constantly looking at slides, your audience may lose interest quickly and your presentation can take a turn for the worst. Having a bit of guidance and some basics points to follow should help you effectively incorporate slides into your oral presentation.
Preparing for your presentation
Use the slides exclusively to display useful graphics or highlight relevant points
Essentially, these two points comprise the main purpose behind the usage of the Powerpoint program in oral presentations. Try and stick to this purpose as much as you are able. Unnecessary slides that do little to benefit-other than give you a break from speaking-may distract your audience and be detrimental to your overall message.
Prepare easy-to-read slides
This tip is very important and encompasses several things. The main concern is that your slides communicate a limited amount of information (just enough to capture the point) and that the text is organized into bullet points or short segments. Also it should written using simple non-distracting sizes, colors, and fonts. Lastly, its best to use a very simple or white background to allow readers to focus on the words rather than the design and colors.
Delivering your presentation
Use notecards; not the the screen
Your entire speech should not be spread out throughout the Powerpoint slides (even if the spreading is done proportionately). Its ok to glance at your slides from time to time and rely on them for some information, but the point is that you don't want to get in the habit of 'reading off of your slides.' Doing this takes away from your speech tremendously, and appears as if you are just a volunteer reading information rather than an expert in the field transmitting valuable information.
When the Powerpoint program is not in use, try a blank or black screen
A black or blank screen will focus the audience's attention on you instead of the last slide you presented. This is effective when you are ready to shift gears to other presentation aids or simply deliver an important portion of your speech. These types of screens will signal to the audience to leave the projection and focus on you.
Have a back up plan
Even the most planned presentation can fault. Prepare a backup plan in the event that your slides don't work or your audience doesn't quite grasp a concept or idea you present. Sometimes you may need to improvise or provide impromptu explanations to effectively convey your message. Try to prepare for these ahead of time by rehearsing possible scenarios and developing a game plan to address them.
Tips on writing and delivering your speech
Since your Powerpoint slides can't get you through everything; you'll need to also develop a strategy for constructing and delivering a great speech. Below are some substantial tips that should help get you started.
Identify your main objective early on and outline your speech before attempting to use the Powerpoint program. Alternatively, you can create note cards or a manuscript to follow if you need more than an outline to read from when presenting.
Know your audience
Outside of academic forums, where you audience is usually students and professors, you may find the need to create an audience profile to properly tailor your speech. If warranted do a bit of research, for example, investigate their age range, professions, preferences, aversions, beliefs etc.
Rehearse your speech when you're alone as well as with a friend. Try to memorize a good portion of it in case you lose your place; or at the least be able to speak freely using examples or anecdotes without going off topic.
Confidence comes with knowledge-so know your topic well. Even if you don't like speaking, or have trouble presenting ideas, at the least you can be confident in what you are saying. If you're firmly grounded in the subject matter then hopefully you'll deliver better knowing that you're providing adequate and correct information to listeners.
Familiarize yourself with the room and equipment
If you're not technologically savvy, you'll definitely want to become familiar with the equipment supplied by the facility housing your presentation. Additionally, using your laptop at home and connected to a projector are two different things. Practice beforehand to make sure you don't spend a good amount of presentation time fumbling with commands and troubleshooting equipment.
Along with this information, if you find yourself experiencing difficulty in writing your actual speech, consider implementing an easy and basic writing outline
- which is just the introduction, body, and conclusion. In your introduction you can introduce yourself and provide necessary background information on the topic as well as a statement of your main objective or point in speaking. In your body share the points of your argument with considerable evidences and revisit your objective statement and add any final thoughts when wrapping up your speech. A final tip is to include examples and anecdotes. They are extremely beneficial in properly illustrating concepts and ideas as well as employing your audience.