Back to the Basics of a Successful Presentation (#6 is the most difficult to overcome)


Recently I have come across many articles talking fancy things about a successful presentation. Fancy jargon are good, but one also needs to remember the basics of presentation. Once you get your basics right, things will definitely fall in place and you will be able to deliver a successful presentation.

So, let’s get back to the basics and look at the elements you need to look while getting ready for a presentation.

1# Determining the Purpose of the Presentation

Determining the purpose of the presentation is very important. Based on the purpose, one can set the mood of the presentation accordingly.

The different purposes can be

  1. To persuade or sell
  2. To teach or train
  3. To entertain
  4. To inform
  5. To inspire or motivate
  6. To stimulate the thoughts

Each of these categories requires a different tone, speech, choice of words and even examples or stories. So before starting to work on your presentation, firstly set your purpose of the presentation right. The more specific your purpose is, the more powerful your presentation will be.

2# Analyze the Audience

Once you have set the purpose of the presentation, the next step is to analyze your audience. Always ask these questions to yourself.

  1. Category: Whether the audience is senior management ad bosses, or just your colleagues.
  2. Age group: What is the age group of your audience (seniors, students or mix age).
  3. Knowledge: What is their knowledge on the subject.
  4. Needs: What are their needs from the presentation.
  5. Expectations: What are they expecting to take away from the presentation.
  6. Interest: Whether it is their own interest to attend the presentation or are being sent.

Any time invested in researching and analyzing your audience prior to your presentation is always time well spent.

If you know your audience well, you will be able set the mood of the presentation more effectively. It will help to know whether to keep the presentation short or make it more detailed. Whether to set a formal or informal tone for the presentation and what should be the length of your presentation

3# Presentation Content

The common mistake that people commit while making a presentation is giving more attention to the visuals, graphics and designs and ignore the core of the presentation i.e. the content. A solid content is like a foundation for your presentation.

Following are some of the main ingredients that should be the part of your presentation

  1. Be Original: Don’t try to restrict your thoughts by looking for similar presentations. Try to be original and innovative.
  2. Introduction: Always introduce yourself at the beginning of the presentation, your background and why you are here, what are you going to present today and what will be the take away from your presentation.
  3. Strong Headlines: Try to make strong headlines for the different sections of your presentation. The headlines should provoke an interest in the audience and keep them guessing what is in store them.
  4. Clear message: Don’t try to make a complex presentation with complex language and unnecessary information. Try to keep it simple, but with a clear message.
  5. Storytelling: Storytelling is an art which keeps the audience engaged. Try to build a story around your presentation, especially if you are targeting a long presentation. Stories are easy to understand and remember.
  6. Support with facts and data: Always try to include relevant data and facts to support your argument. Data can be from the financial report, news article, surveys, competitor data etc.
  7. Summary and conclusion: Always try to end your presentation with a summary or a conclusion. This will help the audience to recall and take away the important points from the presentation.

4# Organize for the Presentation Day

All your efforts will be in vain if you are not able to organize your presentation well. So, do spare some time to check the arrangements yourself. Check if the projector is working well, your presentation file can be opened and viewed on the projector. Check if the screen resolution is good enough for the people sitting at the far corners.

You do want to keep your audience to be kept waiting while resolving such issues during the presentation.

5# Use the Visual Aids

Visual aids are very tricky. If used properly, they can enhance your presentation, but if used badly, they can ruin it completely.

Visual aids help to convey the message to the audience in a more effective manner. Different visual aids like videos, pictures, charts, graphs, diagrams etc., to support or present your content. Some points to take care while working with visual aids

  1. Use the visual aid only when necessary in the presentation.
  2. While presenting the visual aid, look at your audience while speaking.
  3. Take care that the visual aid can be seen or is audible to all the people in the room.

Be prepared to give your presentation without the visual aids also and have a backup for it. If at that moment, the visual aid doesn’t work, do not panic. Prepare well in advance for such situations.

6# Understanding and Dealing with Public Speaking Fear

Sweaty palms, fast running heart beat or a blank mind, if this is what you face at the beginning of the presentation, don’t worry, you are just one of those who are having the public speaking fear. This is a very common condition and most of us suffer from this.

Well, it is not easy to get rid of this nervousness totally, but you can surely work on yourself to deal with it.

While you are feeling nervous, there is a hush of energy flowing in your body, all you have to do is use this energy in your favor and speak more enthusiastically and confidently.

Here are some tips that you can follow to control your nervousness and use your energy to focus on the presentation.

  1. Know your presentation content well. Yes, whether you have prepared the content yourself or someone else has prepared it for you. The key is to understand the content to its core. If you have a doubt about the content, the same will be reciprocated to the audience.
  2. Plan and structure your presentation in advance. Prepare cue cards with the list of phrases or examples you want to include in your presentation. This will help you give confidence of remembering what you have planned to speak, and will help control your nervousness.
  3. Do not try to memorize your presentation, but do try to practice it, may be in front of a mirror. Practicing, will give you confidence as it will not be the first time that you will be presenting the presentation.
  4. Prepare for the questions that could be asked from the audience. This will avoid the panic attack when the actual questions are asked.
  5. Be calm and composed. Practice deep breathing to relax yourself. During the presentation take some water breaks to sip some water. And always remember to keep a smile on your face.

7# Delivering the Presentation

Now when you have prepared well for the presentation, it is the time to deliver it effectively to your audience.

While delivering the presentation just remember the following don’ts.

  1. Sometimes unconsciously the presenter does some actions which show his low level of confidence. Actions like rubbing the nose, touching the face, playing with the watch or jewelry etc. should be avoided.
  2. Try not to use ‘a’ too much in your sentences
  3. Do not blabber
  4. Do not rush around. Deliver your speech at a moderate pace, taking pauses in between.

Now some do’s while delivering your presentation:

  1. Eye contact: Maintain an eye contact with your audience. Look at every person in turn with an eye contact for at least 3-4 seconds.
  2. Always keep a smile on your face.
  3. Use your hand gestures to make your point. When your words and hand follow each other, it gives a very good impact to the listeners.
  4. If you find yourself lost in between, immediately look at your notes and continue without panicking.

8# Deal with Questions from the Audience

It’s good to have a Q&A session at the end of the presentation. This will allow you to understand how effective you were to convey your points to the audience.

But it’s important that you keep the control on the session with you. Don’t just keep leave it open ended which can create a mess around.

Keep in mind the following points while dealing with questions.

  1. The first rule is to listen and understand the question carefully. Do not hesitate to request the person to narrate the question one more time. You can also clarify the question by repeating it yourself, like ‘Do you mean to say this…?’ or ‘Are you asking this’. Reformulating the question also helps the other listeners to hear the question properly.
  2. If you know the answer to the question, just answer it. But do not try to over explain and spend too much of time.
  3. If you do not know the answer for a difficult question, just simply admit it and say that you are not aware of it and will have to do some research on it. You may also ask his/her email id, to let know the answer to the question later.
  4. Sometimes a question may be put up which may not be related to your presentation. No need to try attempting the answer, you can simply say that as the question is out of your scope, you may not be able to answer the question.

If you get the basics of the presentation right, you are surely going succeed in your presentation. If you like the content mentioned in this article, do like and share your views in the comment section. 

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