When it comes to public speaking, if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.
As executives grow up the ladder in the organisation, one of the important skills they need to develop is presentation skills.
These skills broadly focus on the ability to speak up to a group of people in a formal and informal setting. Here are six steps to making successful presentations:
Plan your presentation
This is an excellent starting point and would focus on understanding the subject, the time available and the profile of the audience.
Most speakers fail at this juncture leading to ineffective presentations.
Remember, if you fail to prepare, then prepare to fail.
It is important to structure the presentation into three main parts viz the introduction, the body and the summary.
The introduction should be crisp and create an impact.
The body should contain examples, illustrations, and experiences as relevant to the subject.
The summary could be a concluding remark, an action plan or such.
The art of tackling questions
Many speakers are uncomfortable to questions as they regard it as challenge to their competence.
This is in fact incorrect; questions should be seen as a confirmation of the audience’s interest and participation.
Questions if handled well add tremendously to the credibility of the speaker.
Use Audio visual support
Audio visual support like use of TV / VCR, PPT slides and such enhance the retention process and facilitate learning.
They help structure the presentation and also serve as an aid to memory.
However ensure that the AV equipment is not overused or misused as they may restrict learning and scope for interaction.
Use of Humour
It is rightly said that a smile is the shortest distance between two people.
It is here that the use of humour would help in making the presentation more effective.
Further retention is better and thus the presentation is understood better. But caution should be exercised to ensure that humour should be meaningful and not crude and irrelevant.
Do not apologise when you start
Very often people wrongfully begin presentations with an apology.
This often puts off people and is seen as a defense mechanism to avoid embarrassment.
Feeling confident is the most important step in being confident.
To summarise, sufficient preparation, practice, rehearsals and some AV support should easily make a presentation effective.
Remember to put yourself in the shoes of audience and make it your moral responsibility to give them some value addition through your presentation.
Even if an apology is needed, do so only at the end and mildly only.
In fact enthusiasm itself is a great catalyst for a successful presentation.
Remember 'how you speak is as important as what you say'.
Lead image used for representational purposes only. Credit: Nguyen Hung Vu/Creative Commons
The author Prof RSS Mani is vice president, Institutional Development, ITM Group of Institutions.