Expressing You! – Breathing Life into Your Presentation

Whether you are an investor, an entrepreneur, an employee, self-employed, or unemployed, the ability to effectively present yourself and your ideas has never been more critical than it is today in the dynamic information age.

Effective communication can sway others’ opinions, close a deal, motivate your team, grow your business, and enhance your reputation.

Many people experience anxiety when speaking in public. According to Lilly Walters, author of “Secrets of Successful Speakers,” 75% of stage fright can be alleviated through rehearsal and preparation, 15% through deep breathing, and 10% through mental preparation. Thorough preparation reduces anxiety and provides a consistent framework for achieving extraordinary results.

PREPARE

Create template presentations in advance of when they are required. If you are using PowerPoint, keep text to a minimum and focus on a single idea per slide, with no more than six lines per slide and large, readable, and consistent fonts. The majority of business professionals prefer minimal to no slide animation. Frequently summarize. Never read your slides flipcharts aloud and always address your audience directly. Bear in mind that you, not your visual aids, are the star.

Individualize for your target audience. Begin by gathering information about the vision, mission, and values via websites and printed materials. Then, conduct interviews with relevant individuals to ascertain the source of “pain” in relation to your product, service, or topic. Consider the following: What are the current internal external challenges changes confronting your organization? What is the meeting’s objective purpose? What outcome would you like to see? Are there any additional presenters? If so, who are they and when are they scheduled to appear? How much time am I going to have? How much time should I budget for Q&A in my overall presentation time? Is there anything else you could add to assist me in performing my duties more effectively?

Obtain information such as the date, directions to the venue, meeting and presentation start end times, dress code, attendees, VIPs, agenda, and equipment availability. If you are flying in, enquire about the nearest airport and the distance in miles kilometers from the venue, as well as recommended modes of transportation from the airport to the meeting site or hotel and all contact phone numbers. If you are meeting someone from another country, be sure to inquire about business and cultural etiquette.

Create memorable openings and closings by posing a question, referencing current events, or incorporating a quotation or audio video clip. Because the majority of adults are visual, be inventive. Maintain a sense of humor throughout your speech. If you do not consider yourself to be amusing, incorporate humorous photographs, drawings, unusual clip art, quotes, or media clips into your presentation. Never tell a story or joke that would offend anyone in the slightest. Relate your closing to the full circle of your opening. Respond to inquiries. Conclude with a succinct summary and an enticing call to action.

PRACTICE

Once your content is complete, begin practicing aloud. Pay close attention to or memorize your introduction, key points, and conclusion. Use note cards or visual cues if you require insurance. You will undoubtedly make revisions and improvements throughout this process. After several times of practicing aloud, record yourself on video. Keep track of your time. Keep an eye on your practice session and make necessary adjustments until you feel confident in your content and delivery.

PLAN

Prepare your outfit in advance by selecting garments that make you look and feel great. Dress conservatively. Dress slightly better than your audience to earn instant respect and boost your confidence.

Confirm the date, time, location, and agenda. If you are traveling for your meeting, prepare ahead of time by creating a checklist of necessary items. Always carry a multimedia CD backup, a wireless remote, and any other equipment necessary for your presentation. Carry an extension cable, a power strip, adaptors, and backup batteries to ensure your safety.

PROTECT

Avoid alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, chocolate, and antihistamines the day before and day of an important presentation due to their drying effects. If you are flying, remember that recycled air in planes dehydrates passengers and that speaking above engine noise can strain your voice, so speak as little as possible in-flight. A moist vocal tract produces the best sound with the least physical effort. Consume eight to ten glasses of water daily to stay hydrated.

Avoid dairy products and sugar to avoid excessive mucus. Additionally, grain alcohol, vodka, beer, and red wine can increase mucus production. If you are unable to abstain from alcohol, opt for white wine prior to a presentation.

Sufficient sleep is critical for peak performance.

PRIME

1. Get a good physical workout in the morning to give you energy and focus for the day.

2. In the shower, perform some self-massage and vocal warm-ups. Massage the base of your tongue, the temporomandibular joint (the area between your ears and your cheeks and jaw), as well as your neck and shoulders. Make amusing faces to work out your facial muscles, perform your favorite tongue twisters, and sing an upbeat song.

3. Drinks should be non-carbonated and not excessively hot or cold prior to and during your presentation. Avoid combining protein and carbohydrate-containing foods in the same meal and consume fruit only on an empty stomach.

4. If you have time, physically run through your presentation.

5. Be on time. Arrange everything well in advance. All equipment should be tested and double-checked.

6. Take control of the room by visualizing your energy filling it to the brim and extending to all walls and corners. Declare your intention four times aloud, each time facing a different wall or direction. (i.e. “to obtain the contract”)

7. Put your eyes closed. Consider a person, place, or thing that you adore in your mind’s eye. You may wish to connect with your higher power if you are religious or spiritual. Allow at least six deep breaths. On the inhale, breathe in love; on the exhale, release any tension, anxiety, or stress.

8. Close your eyes and mentally go over your presentation. Visualize yourself succeeding by visualizing your desired outcome.

9. Pump yourself up and burn off excess adrenaline by playing a fast piece of music you enjoy, dancing, or briskly walking around the presentation room. If this is not possible, run in place or jump up and down for 20-30 seconds in a private location. If neither of these is possible, perform simple isometric exercises while sitting or standing, tensing and releasing muscles.

10. Recognize yourself for the time and effort you have expended to perform at your best. Believe in yourself and BE yourself.

PRESENT

Begin and end on time. Prior to beginning, address the audience’s comfort. Be adaptable and prepared to shorten your presentation if necessary. Maintain direct eye contact and address your audience as if you were speaking to a friend. Move freely and make gestures. Smiling, having fun, and being enthusiastic about what you are saying are all important. Concentrate on providing the greatest possible value to your listeners. It is all about them now.

PLAYBACK

If possible, videotape all of your presentations for later review and feedback. A pocket-sized audio recorder is a discrete alternative. Recordings are particularly useful for capturing comments, objections, and action items. Always leave a handout, flyer, brochure, or business card with contact information.

The road to mastery is paved with practice. “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” Confucius said. Take pleasure in the journey.

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