How to Give an Effective Presentation
Keep the Audience in Mind
Giving an effective presentation means working with both the audience and the topic. It's important to know how to relate to who you are communicating with in order to get through to them. A business conference usually calls for professional language, while a laid back style is more appropriate in some situations.
Think about the audience's point of view and what they have in common when planning a speech. Appealing to emotions is a great way to convince and inspire action in others. Make the topic more personal by telling a touching story about another person or situation.
Stay Organized and Focused
Being organized is another important part of effective presentations. Using note cards with clearly written points is a good way to remember what you want to say and in what order. Practice using them beforehand, and make sure they're in order to avoid shuffling around in front of the audience. They should include main ideas and prompts rather than the entire speech written out. Simply reading word-for-word makes it very difficult to look up at the audience, and eye contact is a big part of relating to the audience. Be familiar with any equipment or projector rental that will be used during the presentation ahead of time. If you're especially worried about technical difficulties, consider hiring a professional AV technician to remain onsite and make sure everything runs smoothly.
Utilize Visual Aids
Visual aids can add another dimension to a speech, and they can be used for any topic. Pictures, PowerPoint presentations, and other types of props are a good way to hold the audience's interest. They can help drive home an important point and make the subject matter more concrete. Make sure that the visual aids chosen are relevant to the subject of the presentation. For presentations with a Q&A session or where audience participation is required, a great tool for increasing engagement is Catchbox. This padded, throwable microphone will keep the audience on their toes and allow you to command more attention throughout the whole session.
The Catchbox throwable audience mic.
Back Up Your Argument
To convince an audience of something, or to get them to listen to your point of view, it's essential to back up your argument. People can tell right away when they are hearing a lot of fluff without much substance. One effective way to be believable is to use statistics and mention where they came from. Audiences usually respond to numbers and other solid information in speeches when it comes from a reputable source. The most credible sources are usually considered to be government agencies, universities, and other well-established organizations that are relevant to the subject matter.
Stick to a Logical Structure
Part of backing up an argument is giving a speech with a logical structure. People are more likely to be persuaded when topics are covered in an order that makes sense. Jumping around too much causes confusion, and it makes the audience more likely to tune out. Being able to stay on track with a beginning, middle, and end that include clear points makes the speaker sound more credible. Think of the five-paragraph essay structure that is taught in virtually every high school: Start with an introduction, then divide the presentation into main points with supporting arguments, and end with a conclusion. If you keep these tips in mind, you'll be onyour way to giving a great presentation that is engaging, relevant, and well organized.
A diagram that illustrates the common 5-paragraph essay format. Meeting Tomorrow provides additional public speaking resources, as well.
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