How to Give a Great Presentation

21 Feb

From:    “Siramdasu Nagaraju” <snraju_lib@yahoo.com>
Date:    Wed, 20 Feb 2008 21:22:35 -0800 (PST)

Outline Your Points

After pinpointing the message of your presentation, you must determine how you’ll present it. A good way to prepare is to create an outline of the most important points you want to make throughout the presentation, and then add some brief scripting to help prompt you through a mind “blank.” However, don’t script your entire presentation word for word, gesture by gesture. Here’s why:
  • You’ll flub it: Trying to memorize prepared text will only make you second-guess your own words. When you can’t remember them exactly, you could very well panic, lose your place, and have to go back and repeat yourself or skip over a whole section.
  • You’ll read it: Opt to bring your script along with you to the podium and you’ll end up reading from it. Audiences hate this. It sucks all the spontaneity out of a presentation and makes crowds feel as though you don’t care enough to engage them face to face. People like to be talked to, not lectured to.
  • You’ll distance it: Remember all that information about your audience that you were supposed to gather and incorporate into your presentation? If you’ve scripted your presentation, you’ll have much less chance to use it, especially the crucial information you gather just before you take the podium.
  • You’ll formalize it: Scripted presentations inevitably lead to overly formal and stilted speeches. You’ll end up sounding wooden and a far cry from the engaging speaker you want to be.
This isn’t to say you should show up for your presentation completely unprepared and willing to wing it — far from it. In any presentation, whether informational or persuasive, it’s essential to get to the point quickly and stay on topic throughout. The best way to sustain this oral efficiency is to outline what you have to say beforehand.

Get Your Points Together

Before you can create an outline, you need ideas and points to organize. To get the brain juices flowing, go through these three steps:
  1. Determine which points support your message best and will help convey what you want your audience to know, understand, or feel.
  2. Determine a handful (three to five, in most cases) of the most important facts that seem the most relevant and necessary.
  3. Throw out anything that doesn’t support those facts.

Gather Evidence

With your salient points in hand, flesh out each in greater detail. Think about how much support they may need through facts, figures, and other evidence.
A presentation just isn’t credible without supporting materials. You could be charming as Miss Manners, but without evidence to back up your claims and show that what you say is true, no one will buy it. Evidence provides the meat for what would otherwise be nothing but an outline of ideas.
Evidence brings the following to the table in a presentation:
  • Clarification: It elaborates on your ideas and/or position.
  • Proof: It shows that what you say is true.
  • Life: It makes your presentation more memorable and interesting.
A number of different types of evidence will work for your presentation. Here are a few to consider:
  • Facts and figures: Data verifiable by an outside source. These include:

Statistics: Information explaining something in terms of size or frequency. Statistics sound like facts and figures, but they can be easily skewed and manipulated to give an impression that they may not be true. Always consider the source of a statistic and what its agenda might be. It’s best to seek out multiple sources and their statistics to make sure the one you want to use is accurate. Also be sure to use only current information because statistics can often get out of date fairly quickly.

Statements by authority: Quotes from experts. Sometimes, popular figures such as politicians, television, or radio personalities are worth quoting, but unless they’re speaking to their profession, they shouldn’t be presented as authorities. When quoting experts that aren’t well known, mention their credentials.

  • Testimony: Supporting statements by others. There are three general types of testimony:

Expert testimony: Same as statements by authority mentioned previously.

Prestige testimony: Popular figures such as politicians, business personalities, or movie stars.

Lay testimony: A civilian who isn’t necessarily an expert on the subject but can shed some light on it. This type of testimony is usually used to show that a problem or issue exists and may even be prevalent.

  • Narratives: Stories that illustrate a point by triggering the imagination through imagery. Similar to your presentation, narratives should have a beginning, middle, and end. They should also be pertinent and free of too many unnecessary tangents and other details. The human mind hasn’t changed much since ancient people spread information through myths and epic poetry — stories still pass information more effectively than most other forms of communication.
  • Definitions: You have three different types of definitions at your disposal:

Dictionary: The standard meaning that comes from the dictionary.

Etymological: The history of a word’s development and where it came from.

Operational: A measurement for a concept or idea that eludes easy definition. For example, happiness, which can be defined many ways, could be defined in one particular situation as the number of times someone smiles.

  • Humor: Funny stories or quips related to the topic. Careful here — they may get attention and ease the crowd, but sometimes they just may not be appropriate. Take a look at The Quotations Page to get some ideas of humorous and great quotes you can use to perk up your presentations.

Mix and Match Types of Evidence

Of these evidence types, only facts and figures, statistics, and testimony can actually prove anything. If you really want to prove something, you’ll need to include one or more of them in your presentation to strengthen your argument. Additionally, you may want to also include other types of evidence as well, such as a narrative or two to show the subject in human terms, or humor to ease the crowd. Combining evidence both builds an effective argument and keeps your listeners riveted.

Select an Organizational Structure

The next trick after gathering your information is to organize it. The body of your presentation needs some kind of order; otherwise, you’ll end up like one of those unfortunate speakers who jumps from one subject to another seemingly at random, repeating things and never getting to the point. Stick to an organizational structure and you can avoid those problems.
How you organize depends on your overall topic. Certain subjects lend themselves naturally to certain structures, the most common of which are:
  • Topical: Relates distinct ideas to the theme and makes each a main point. Most useful for informative speeches.
  • Chronological: Framed around a time sequence. Useful for both informative and persuasive speeches because each requires background information.
  • Classification: Puts material into categories. Useful for both informative and persuasive speeches.
  • Problem/solution: Describes a problem and presents a solution. Most useful for persuasive speeches.
  • Cause/effect: Describes the cause of a problem and then presents its effects. Most useful for persuasive speeches.
One of these patterns will work for most subjects, but it’s got to support your message and the goal of the presentation.
Whichever way you choose, just make sure you stick with it throughout the presentation — jumping from one organization plan to another can be almost as confusing as having no organization plan at all.
As you’re organizing, consider which materials will go with each point and which will bring your evidence to life. You’ll learn more about this topic toward the end of this lesson, but first, take a look at how to link your information together through transitions.

Transitions

How you get from your presentation’ s opening to its body, from point to point within the body, and from there to the conclusion, can make or break you as a presenter. That’s why transitions are so important.
Transition statements move your audience from one idea to the next. In one or two sentences, they wrap up your last idea and move it into your next idea. If handled properly, transition statements can make your presentation all the more smooth, polished, and engaging to a crowd.

Transitions Make the Presentation Go Round

Think of transitions as the cement that bonds together the structure of your presentation. They help your audience from getting confused as they absorb the information you provide. If your points had no markers between them and ran together with no distinction, listeners might not realize that you’ve moved on to a new topic or why the current evidence you’re providing is relevant.
The audience will eventually figure it out, but that will take time — precious time in which they won’t listen to you as closely, possibly missing some of your presentation. Even worse, they may blame you for gumming things up (and rightly so), which will cost you credibility. Audiences may not notice the transitions in a presentation (which is kind of the point), but they’ll definitely notice those that they’re missing.
Well-crafted transitions come in two flavors:
  • The kind that reinforces your speech’s organization: This approach emphasizes where your presentation has been and where it’s headed, letting the audience know that you’ve finished point A and are moving on to point B, so it’s time to switch gears and prepare for new information.
  • The kind that demonstrates how your ideas relate to the theme of your presentation: This method pulls the listeners back for a moment to remind them of the main topic that brought them to your presentation in the first place before further elaborating on it.
There’s only a fine line of difference between these two approaches, and both can be mixed and matched interchangeably. In fact, the best transitions perform both of these functions.
Give your transitions a trial run. Although you should never completely script a presentation, you should always at least plan your transitions ahead of time. Transitions are the easiest elements of a presentation to forget, especially if you’re nervous and just want to get your time in front of the crowd over with. Practicing transitions ahead of time assures you won’t forget them later.

Working Visual Aids into the Mix

Charts and Graphs

Charts and graphs are where to turn when you want to show numbers and the connections between them. They help people comprehend the meaning behind data at a glance. Each type of chart or graph specializes in presenting particular types of data best. Be careful though, not to overuse them. Such a standardized means of presenting numbers can actually help an audience tune out.

Use Handouts

Whether you opt for predigital or fully electronic A/V tools, consider providing handouts. They can give your audience a handy reference to come back to throughout a presentation, spare your listeners from excessive note-taking, may contain more information than materials used on stage, and help ensure that your audience leaves with your message, literally.
Now that you’ve assembled your ideas and transitions into a cohesive plan for a presentation, you’re ready to work in where the visual aids will go. Go through your outline and see which ideas would be best expressed, or at least enhanced, by the power of an image.
Remember the attributes of visual aids that you learned in Lesson 1? Keep them in mind throughout this process. You want to select aids that improve the audience’s understanding of the topic, provide variety, support your evidence, reinforce your points, and generate impact to make the presentation memorable.
Visual aids aren’t meant to simply dazzle your audience with cool materials and gadgets or give you a crutch to hide behind and avoid talking. Visuals serve to focus attention, arouse and sustain interest, and help you quickly get ideas across that are complicated and difficult to comprehend with words.
Here are some considerations when selecting visual aids:
  • How versed is the audience in this subject? How much does it need visual aids to drive home the points?
  • Which points will be hard to make without some sort of visual to drive it home?
  • Should I use a visual aid to reinforce some particularly important points?
Don’t forget the practical: How much time do I have and what sort of equipment can I use? You could spend hours putting together the most convincing computer and light show, but if there’s no electricity to run it, why bother? Likewise, if your presentation will be at an outdoor venue, you may want to lay off the handouts — the wind could blow them away — or make sure they’re properly bound.
That being said, certain information lends itself best to certain types of presentation materials. Keep these pros and cons in mind as you mull your options.

Predigital Tools

Generally, predigital materials such as posters, flip charts, and white boards are low-cost, simple solutions that are best suited for smaller crowds. In addition, flip charts and white boards in particular are:
A great way to interact with an audience and keep them involved. Ask your audience for ideas and go back to whatever you wrote down or drew if it becomes pertinent again. This reinforces the crowd’s awareness of their participation.
Ready to go before the presentation but can also be expanded or altered during the presentation, potentially making things more exciting for the audience.
Designed to be wiped clean or flipped closed when you’re done, so they don’t distract anyone.
One disadvantage of predigital tools is their bulkiness. Posters and flipcharts can be tricky to transport without bending or ripping. In addition, assuming the white board you’re using isn’t electronic, you generally lose the information after the presentation is over and the eraser comes out.

Overhead Transparencies

Overhead transparencies are good for developing your presentation as you go along. It can be exciting for speaker and audience alike to see ideas written out and projected on to the screen during a speech.
Some advantages of using transparencies include:
  • They’re a good way to build your point by laying down overlays that elaborate on what came before.
  • You can use an overhead projector with significant light in the room, thereby maintaining eye contact with your audience.
  • You can easily create transparencies on a computer or by hand, and modify them during a presentation.
  • They become instant handouts when run through a copy machine.
  • They more or less do what a slide does but don’t take nearly as much time or money to get together.
A few disadvantages of using transparencies include:
  • Writing or marking on them can sometimes go awry due to slippage, and so on.
  • You might feel captive to the projector because you must change each transparency by hand.
  • The informality of transparencies may turn off some people who equate computer slide shows with professionalism.
  • Adjusting the focus and size of the projection can be annoying to an audience, especially if performed throughout the presentation.

Physical Objects

If you’re talking about it, why not bring it? Let your audience see the object of your discussion. If it’s the sort of item you can pass around or demonstrate, by all means do so. Interacting with objects will give your audience a stake in the presentation.
If you can’t bring in equipment or models for demonstrate purposes, consider using photos or line drawings.

Digital Tools

The future of presentations has arrived, just be sure to read the instruction manual.
Using computer-projected presentation software is a versatile option. You can create a pleasing, all-in-one visual aid, incorporating multiple types of materials — images, charts, text, and audio — in one seamless presentation. Everything in your computer can be projected, eliminating the need to bring several bulkier types of visual aids. Plus, an electronic presentation is easy to transport, and last-minute changes can be made in a snap. Just be sure your last-minute changes don’t affect the content of your preprinted handouts — consistency is very important to credibility!
If you’ve got the time, money, and think you can make a film that won’t put your audience to sleep, go for it. A well-developed film can convey with imagery and sound what you can’t, and can add a huge dose of professionalism to any presentation.
However, depending on the make and model, connecting a projector to a computer can be a challenge to all but the techno-savvy. If you’re in this group, plan ahead to have a technical person available to help you set up before the presentation, and to get out of a bind during an event.
Did somebody say “technical difficulty?” The reliance on electronics comes with the risk that something will break down, or that the electricity will go out. Always have a backup plan, just in case.

Use Accessories

Laser pointers are good for working big rooms with a lot of visual material. They draw the audience’s eye like few other aids can. In addition, a clip-on microphone or, even better, a wireless headset, is a must for a large audience when you have lot to say. They amplify your voice, and free your hands to use a laser pointer or control a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.
………source frm all business group
….NAGARAJU.S, 
DIGITAL LIBRARIAN, 
MANNAN INSTITUTE OF ENGG & SCIENCE(MIST) ,
CHEVELLA, Hyderabad-501503, INDIA.
Phone No: +91 – 9959066803, 9985212208

2 Responses to “How to Give a Great Presentation”

  1. malathi February 4, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    very useful………

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