Everyone has been to some terrible presentations that just fell flat with the audience. The sad aspect of these kinds of experiences is that usually the information being presented was important, excellent information that the audience needed at the time. However, regardless of how valuable that information is, when the delivery is flat, it can be an unbearable and even painful experience for the listener. In fact, a dull speaker runs the risk that people will not stay through to the end of the presentation. For the speaker it is also a painful experience, to look out over the audience and see the signs of boredom; drool coming out the sides of their mouths, eyes rolling back in their heads or hearing snores erupt from the back row. If you want to avoid this scenario as a public speaker and give a public speech or workshop that rocks the house, then read on for ten keys to help you craft an excellent presentation.
Know your Topic
The first key is to know your topic. Know what you are talking about and know it inside out. It is immediately clear to all who are listening, when a speaker is not confident or clear in what they are saying, and the risk is that the audience turns off. You need to be confident in yourself and in what you are speaking about, as well as being positive that your content is going to benefit your audience. If you are not, they will sense you are not the real deal, that you are not authentically interested in them, and they will then simply tune you out.
This does not mean you need to be extremely polished when you are just beginning as a public speaker, but you do need to present yourself as the expert. You need to be confident in yourself and your abilities and skills. Many people think they must memorize their speech word for word, but in reality, some workshops and live training classes you might be involved in can span over several days. It would be impossible to memorize that much content and to deliver that full training from memory. The secret therefore is to use notes. Whether your training will last thirty minutes or three days, notes will help you stay focused.
Give yourself an Anchor
However, reading out notes word for word is probably not going to be very effective. You need to leave yourself some flexibility so that you can refer to your notes, but still be free to move around and connect with your audience while you talk. So, you can either write your notes out word for word, write them as bullet points, write them as a script, or simply list the major points you want to cover. Having these notes will give you a sense of relief and confidence that you have something to back you up while you talk. It will also help you develop a bulletproof approach for getting up on stage, which will be covered in a separate article.
The truth is many people panic at the thought of memorizing the pledge of allegiance, so the idea of memorizing a thirty minute, one-hour, three hours, or three-day presentation can be overwhelming. However, that is why the use of notes is a great idea as you can refer to them throughout your presentation and people will be fine with that. If you choose to talk without notes, have them ready as a backup. If you lose your place, you can get right back on track and reconnect with the audience by quickly scanning your notes.
Of course, before putting all of the effort into your preparation, before you even begin looking at your topic, be clear why you are there. What are your objectives and goals? What is it you want to get out of the day, the event, the workshops, and more importantly what do you want your audience or attendees to get from your message?
Keep that end goal firmly in mind, and it will help steer you in the right direction while you are constructing your presentation.