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Chapter 12. Giving the Presentation > Preparing to Present

Preparing to Present

The more presentations you give, the better speaker you will become. The key to giving a good presentation is to be prepared, pay attention to the details, and have plenty of practice. Here are some tips that can help your overall presentation.

  • Before presentation, get a friend or coworker to read through it. You'll be surprised at how often they'll find a typo that you missed.

  • If you can, get to the presentation venue early. Sit or stand where you will be when you're speaking, and make sure that your seating (or the podium) is adjusted the way that you want it. Take a moment to adjust the microphone and work with the venue's audio technician to get the levels right before the audience arrives. Make sure you have a spot to place a cup of water. Getting comfortable with the physical space and the facilities helps a lot.

  • If you have the opportunity to greet some of the audience members as they enter the room, you should do so. It's easier to speak to people you know, even if all you've done is say hello.

  • Before you begin, visualize yourself giving a successful presentation. Imagine that you've spoken very well, and see in your mind the audience's involvement in your talk. Hear their applause, and picture audience members coming up to congratulate you after the show. It sounds a bit silly, but visualizing success works.

  • Concentrate on your message, not on the audience. If you focus on what you're saying, you will distract yourself from being nervous.

  • If you are nervous, never apologize for it. Except in extreme cases, most audiences don't notice that speakers are nervous, and it doesn't help your case to point it out.

  • Always keep in mind that your audience wants you to succeed. People don't go to a presentation thinking, “I sure hope this guy gives a lousy talk and wastes my time.” They want to get something out of your presentation as much as you do.

  • Unless you are a professional comedian, keep the jokes to a minimum, or skip them altogether. A joke that falls flat isn't a good way to start a show.

  • Don't read straight from a script. Very few people can read from a script without putting their audience to sleep; we call those people actors (and professional speakers).

  • Don't read your slides aloud word for word. Your slides should be signposts and reminders of what you want to say. Using your slides as your teleprompter is another way to lose audience interest. For prompts, use your Speaker Notes.

  • It's a good idea to put a summary slide at the end of your presentation. Not only does it bring your talk to a natural end, but it helps to once again drive your argument home to your audience.

  • Try hard not to run over your allotted time. It's always a good idea to practice your presentation using a clock, stopwatch, or Keynote's Presenter Display to see how long your presentation is. It's better to cut slides before the presentation than to run out of time and not be able to finish at all. On the other hand, if your presentation is running short, it's better to find out before you're in front of a bunch of expectant faces.

  • After the presentation is over, thank your audience and make yourself available for questions. As you are chatting with people, get feedback from them so that you can improve the next show. Simply asking them if there was anything they would have liked you to cover can yield useful information.



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