Performing Business Presentations and Speeches

Statistically more of us are being asked by our employers to make presentations and speeches for various reasons and yet still today most of us still find it one of the most challenging  and pressurised situations to overcome.   Below we have listed 10 steps that will help you perform in a clear and engaging way that is essential for you to succeed.

Know your audience
It is advisable to know who your audience is before you begin creating the contents of your presentation or speech as you should tailor the content and your examples appropriately.

Co-ordinate with the other speakers
It is worth remembering you may not be the only one who is making a speech or presentation to this same audience.   Find out what topics they are covering if appropriate so then you are not repeating what has already been covered.

Structure your presentation
Structure is exceptionally important when creating a presentation, often people don’t know where to start when creating a presentation and if a presentation has no proper structure a person can lose their audience very quickly.   Although this may be obvious it is always good to have a beginning a middle and an end created for your presentation, then topped and tailed by a slide at the beginning saying “The purpose of this presentation today is to …..  At the end “In Conclusion….”.   You can also choose to add a question and answer slide at the end if you feel it appropriate.  This format will help you stay on point when creating the presentation and also ensure that your audience fully understands the key points you are trying to communicate.

Less is sometimes more
When you are selecting the facts you wish to relay to your audience it is worth knowing and remembering people can only take in so much, so choose the facts that are most relevant create a short bullet point for each of these facts you wish to discuss if it is a presentation, and work on the principle less is sometimes more.

Stick to your time allocation
Consider your audience, overrunning on your time allocation especially in front of a client can have serious implications and may result in your company not getting the order.

Prepare and practice
The best public speakers all have one thing in common and it doesn’t matter if it’s a subject they know inside out or not, they all prepare their material well and practice their performance thoroughly as this stops the issue of rambling and confusing their audience.  Be aware and make allowances for the fact that you may have to be adaptable during your presentation as you may be asked by members of your audience a question relating to that particular subject.

See your audience as an ally not as the enemy
Remember you audience is there to hear from you on issues that can help them, so reassure them by projecting yourself in a confident manner. When addressing an audience it can be helpful to pick 3 people to address in the room, one person at the back of the centre of the room, one person in the middle of the left of the room and one person at the middle of the right of the room, and then address them slowly in a sweeping movement e.g. one sentence or key point to person Left, then next point to Person centre, and then the next to person right, then back to the centre and so on, this gives a sense to the audience that you are addressing them all.  Pick 3 friendly faces and talk to them as if you are personally trying to help them understand your message this really can help with nerves if you have to address a larger gathering of people.

Become visible to your audience
So many of us make the mistake of reading out densely packed slides to their audience, believe me when I say it won’t take long before you have lost their interest (Commonly known as Death by PowerPoint!).   So create simple visual aids and/or bullet points that outline and support your points clearly to allow the audience to concentrate on you and what you are saying.

Don’t forget you have an audience
Looking and pointing at you presentation /slides is fine but face your audience as much as possible as this makes them feel more involved and therefore more likely to participate if appropriate.   It is also worth remembering when making a speech or presentation to always be aware of not making any distracting movements.

Speak up, clearly and with energy
Adapt the volume of your voice to the size of the room but refrain from shouting, speak clearly, never trail of at the end of your sentences and bring energy to your voice as the sure way to send your audience to sleep is to speak to them in a monotonous voice.

Remember, the point of your presentation or speech is usually to impart helpful and meaningful information to your audience, the key to success often is the belief that you are there to provide information that will help the people in the audience, if you think if this when you are presenting as opposed to being “nervous” about your own performance this will make you calmer. My advice is to practice your presentation out loud at least 10 times before you give the presentation, learn the first sentence off by heart and have it written in big writing in front of you, and take three deep breaths before the start of your presentation.

We wish you well in your next presentation and hope this information has been helpful.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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