I discussed how to prepare for a great presentation in my previous posts. Here are some tips for presentation day itself.
Avoid wearing anything that could be a distraction including dangling or noisy jewelry. Take keys and coins out of your pockets. (If you’re training someone for a presentation, ask what he or she plans to wear. I didn’t do that once, and the speaker showed up in an orange and green plaid jacket – really!)
Prepare the scene
If at all possible, visit the site before the presentation day. In any event, arrive early that day. Test the equipment. If possible, bring an extra set of equipment. It’s also good to have an alternative way to present. I once did a daylong workshop at a major computer manufacturer…and the computer didn’t work. I couldn’t use my presentation slides for the first two hours.
In most cases, distribute the handouts at the start of the presentation. People like to take notes.
Make sure water is available. It is amazing how dehydrated you can get when speaking.
During the presentation: general tips
Take two deep breaths right before you speak. It will help you relax.
Speak to one person at a time. Focus on a person for about 30 seconds and then move on to someone else.
Move to punctuate a point or to indicate you are changing topics.
Start and stop on time. Better yet, end a little early. Audiences like presenters who stop five minutes early. They dislike those who end five minutes late.
During the presentation: visual tips
Speak to the audience, not to the screen. You can, however, refer to the screen or check it to make sure the right slide is being projected.
Do not read the slides. Assume your audience is literate. Use the bullet points as talking points.
Use a pointer or laser to highlight key items on visuals.
Occasionally turn the PowerPoint off. (Hit “b” to make the screen go blank. Hit it again to make the slides come back.) That brings the audience’s focus back to you, where it belongs.
When speakers are enjoying themselves, the audience enjoys itself too. This doesn’t mean you’re laughing all the time; it simply means putting the presentation in perspective. You are there to connect with the people in the room. You are there to educate, motivate or entertain.
Even with professional training, expect a little stage fright. After all, as the adage goes: “You never totally get rid of those butterflies in the stomach. You just teach them to fly in formation.”