As a university professor and public speaker of 30 years I can still get pre-presentation jitters. This is why I continually sharpen my presentation skills. First, let’s look at one of the biggest hurdles of giving presentations.
Confidence and preparation are the key to giving presentations they won’t forget
- You must be thoroughly prepared beforehand. Most public speaking anxiety starts in the head, and being prepared is the best way to ensure you will do well. It’s hard to be confident when you’re not prepared.
- Illicit some type of response from your audience right away. Get them to laugh, clap, stand up, raise their hand or anything else that requires movement. This helps humanize your audience, sets you in control, and allows interaction. No audience is tougher (or more frightening) than a bunch people looking up at you with blank faces.
Being confident and competent is the first step in giving a great presentation. The second is finding a system that works for you.
Hook, Book, Look, Took Method
I use the “Hook Book Look Took Method” to prepare all teaching, preaching and presentation material. It’s easy to use and remember. Especially as a guide while organizing my presentations.
- HOOK: The hook always comes first. It involves doing something that gains the attention of the audience right from the beginning. You only have a few seconds to capture the attention of your audience. So don’t be shy.
- BOOK: Right after the hook comes the book (your topic). The Book is important because it lets people know exactly what you will talk about. It’s important to be clear and precise when you explain your topic. Because most people stop paying attention, if they don’t know what you’re talking about.
- LOOK: The Look is the main body of information. Look involves all the supporting evidence and order of the main points. Remember to keep your key points to a minimum. Support each point with a few examples and use as much multimedia as you can. However, don’t overdo it. Or you may overwhelm your audience.
- TOOK: The Took is what makes a successful presentation. If they leave without taking anything home, we’ve failed. So make sure the audience leaves wanting more. Do something that makes the audience want to go home and mull over the information you provided. Try to make it applicable and practical. Something that encourages them to tell their friends and family.
5 things to remember
1. Not boring – My rule of thumb is to make sure you add interesting information, and present it uniquely. Think of creative presentation strategies using humor, emotional stories, varying vocal style, adding music, video clips, props, skits, visual aids etc.
2. Not long – Brevity is more than the soul of wit. It’s key for our short-attention-span generation. So don’t be one of those people who gives long boring presentations!
Remember the brain can only remember what the butt can endure
3. Connection is Key – Having a connection with your audience will make you hard to forget. Remember to vary your voice quality, speak to illicit a proper emotional response (don’t be a robot), make direct eye contact frequently, and even leave the stage and out into the audience to help break the monotony of a presentation.
4. Wanting More – Leave them wanting more is an old comedian’s adage. It’s important to set yourself up as qualified or an expert in your field and cover your material sufficiently. However, don’t give them everything at once. Let them know you have much more to offer, and would love to come back later. If you just had more time, or if they would just invite you back.
5. Avoiding common mistakes – The most common mistakes are usually in our body language and voice quality (or technology glitches). Looking at the floor, reading your notes, talking to the projector screen, looking past the audience, and speaking in a feeble voice will kill any presentation or speech.
If you want to give a presentation they won’t forget, you need to deliver useful information in a way that stimulates as many of the audiences senses as possible. People are not just a big brain soaking up information. We are hearing, touching, seeing, smelling, tasting, spiritual, intellectual and emotional creatures. If you can stimulate more than one of these, your presentation will be something they won’t forget.
If you want more great information, check out TED