Editor’s note: This is the first of two articles about how best to prepare for a public presentation.
Prepare, prepare, prepare. You can never be too prepared to present. Knowing your presentation through and through can help boost your confidence while easing your fear and anxiety.
Preparation does not just include knowing what you are going to say, it also includes how and why you are going to present the information. Here are some tips to help you create an effective speech or presentation.
Open with confidence. Your opening gives your audience a first impression. Know the audience and the purpose of the presentation. Find out what they might expect from your remarks and what they may already know about the topic. Consider how you will grab the audience’s attention. If you need to deliver bad news, consider ways to connect with the audience from the beginning of the presentation. Be well prepared for the opening because it sets the tone for your entire presentation–leave nothing to chance.
Focus on a few key points. Know the major points you want to make. This will help ease your worry and increase your confidence. Outline the key concepts in your electronic visuals, on a note card, or better still use a memory technique such as stacking so you remember your key points. Avoid trying to memorize your presentation because it will sound canned and stiff and you want it to sound comfortable and real.
Support ideas with evidence. It is always important to provide evidence to support your main points. Supporting evidence will reinforce your points to the audience and give you a chance to explain your points more fully.
Close with a call to action. This will be the last impression your audience has of you and your presentation. It is important to look at the purpose of the presentation and then determine a proper close. Emphasize the key action or actions that you want the audience to take after hearing your presentation. This serves as a nice summary of your content and assures they leave with a clear direction.
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