Tips on preparing for your speech and presentation

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Photo Credit: Thananit

If you want to become a successful business leader, then you are going to need to learn how to speak in front of a group and give a presentation. Mastering these skills are going to be vital if you plan on climbing the corporate ladder. “Just look at the head of any business and you will see that they are masters at demonstrating their expertise and speaking with confidence” says Dan Smith, a keynote speaker with over 15 years of experience. “Anyone who expects to be in management or who wants to start their own business some day is going to have to hone this skill as soon as possible.”

The Goal of Your Presentation

Most of the presentations you’re asked to give in a business setting aim to achieve one of two purposes: (1) to inform or (2) to persuade. During your insightful presentation, those in the crowd listening will learn something new about a topic they are familiar with. However, when being persuasive, the goal of a good speaker is to change the mind of your audience and get them to see things from a new perspective.

It does not matter if the goal of your presentation is to convince or educate your audience, the presentation will contain many of the same elements. It is crucial that you understand the objective before you give your speech, otherwise you might reveal to much too soon. If you are presenting to a large group, you’ll need to do more to make all audience members feel involved in your presentation.

Motivating Your Audience

But what if the goal of your speech is to motivate and inspire your audience in some way? Then this can drastically change how you go about giving your presentation. “As a motivational speaker, my main goal is to get the audience to focus on one big idea that will get them to think or behave in a different way” says John Rogan, founder of Motivational Speaker.

“The key to a good presentation is really focusing on big idea that is digestible and actionable. Just look at any good TED talk and you will see that all of the speakers there focus on one key takeaway. Sure, you might want to address the topic from a few different angles, but never derail from the main idea.”

Adjusting to Your Audience Size

However, with a group that is smaller, it might be easier to get them engaged. With some audiences, you may need to provide more background/historical information about your topic before you can effectively persuade them of the correctness of your point and if the audience is not inherently motivated to listen to you, then you’ll need to give them reason to listen within the presentation itself.

The space in which you present will impact both you and your audience. Sometimes you have little control over space constraints, but it is important to check it out before you give your presentation in order to make allowances for comfort of the audience and to ensure that they can all see you, no matter where they are sitting.

A study by Albert Mehrabian at UCLA shows that 55 percent of our total message in face-to-face interactions is communicated through body language. A big part of body language is how you dress. As a general rule, you should dress slightly better than your audience. Conservative dress and solid colors are always winners in the business arena.

Elements of Your Presentation

Your presentation should have an introduction, body and conclusion. The first part of your presentation is called the opening. You use the opening to get the audience’s attention, build (or continue to build) rapport with the audience, introduce your topic, and prepare the audience for the rest of your presentation. The opening should take only a fraction of your total presentation time.

For example, if you’re giving a fifteen-minute presentation, you might dedicate two to three minutes to the opening. Your opening should set the tone for the rest of your presentation. First impressions are important. Make sure everybody knows who you are. The audience needs to know who you are and why they should listen to you. Present your credentials and let people know why you’re an expert on this topic. Be careful not to sabotage yourself in your dress or your spoken words.

Dan Adams is a business and marketing consultant who works with young entrepreneurs from around the world and loves to write about personal development, business, and branding.


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