15 Tips For Preparing An Effective Oral Presentation
Don’t mind the informal me, I just seem to love that ‘down-to-earthness’ – I personally believe that such disposition is a better facilitator of effective communication.
Without much ado, I am going to share to you some ideas on what I can safely call most people’s nightmare (next to examinations, of course) – An oral presentation.
Organizations and other platforms have also come to discover the essence of an effective oral presentation. How it can move an employee from a zero state of mind to an excited state of mind after a brief but powerful presentation.
Businesses are not left out too as it has become a core value that has to be portrayed to convince potential clients about a business idea.
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Essentially, oral presentations are nothing to be scared of.
They add some kind of depth to the learning experience.
Not having this depth is what we should be scared of. Self-expression is just one of the core pillars of assessing how much and how well a student or presenter has assimilated the content of instructional material.
On the overall, some of the most faced challenges associated with oral presentations are content and stage management which shall be discussed broadly here.
Whether you are a student, employee, professional or businessman, you sure need this skill to make a good impression.
Enjoy these tips, internalize them and start putting them into good practice. At the end of this write-up, you will discover the peculiar challenges of stage fright, how to deal with it and a few tidbits on presentation etiquette.
1. Know the content
Nothing breeds confidence like competence and nothing breeds competence like preparation. Being vast in and thoroughly familiar with whatever the subject of a presentation will, in no small way, reinforce your sense of having something genuinely interesting to offer.
With this in place, the presentation ceases to be a mere talk or some kind of recital. It indeed becomes an active engagement of the audience on a journey of discovery. All you need do is just visualize yourself as a tour guide or a curator in a museum.
All you need do is to relate antecedents, history, origins, facts, figures and aspects of the subject matter in such a way as to stimulate their imagination.
You lead the audience on, not exactly projecting yourself but helping them see what needs to be seen. You wouldn’t want to go to the stage and destroy the expectations of people eagerly waiting to listen to you.
2. Practice your presentation beforehand
You should start with yourself first. Talk to yourself, then graduate with talking to a friend or small group of friends. When you build more confidence, start by speaking for free to become more professional.
You could begin by speaking to associations and clubs. Your audience may give you more networking opportunities when they enjoy your free presentations. There are business owners in your audience or people who work for businesses looking for speakers.
In fact, there is much more to learn while you practise. By the time you become well-known, you can start charging a token or your prices can even become non-negotiable. 😉
3. Be natural
The mistake a lot of presenters make is thinking that great presentations are all about big vocabularies and sophisticated terms.
May I indulge you in a different perspective – great presentations are all about presentations done in the most natural way. Be calm, relax and flow effortlessly.
Do your presentations like they are your daily routines. Help your audience feel like – “yes, I agree with what he is talking about”.
Rather than trying to charm the audience with sophisticated style, be more committed to capturing their imagination through simple cues and vivid expressions.
There is a child in everyone, no matter how old. If possible, add a little humour here and there but try not to overdo it. Ensure you stay on track.
Read this: How to ask questions smartly
4. Invoke curiosity
This aspect is what makes your audience hooked until the end of your presentation. They want to know where you are headed. They can’t risk being distracted until you finish. All you need do is reawaken that curious infant in the brief moment of your presentation.
It is for this reason that presentations adopt visual aids and graphical tools. The world-famous PowerPoint computer application also goes hand in hand with projectors – large screens for a clearer, broader view.
Where else is such pervasive attention given to pictures and descriptive tools apart from a kindergarten? Such applications show that there is a childlike nature in every man. Invoke it!
5. Get your audience involved
Get your audience involved in your presentation. Don’t stand behind a lectern all through, tale a brisk, confident walk and project your words into the minds of your audience. Don’t let the lectern come in between you and the audience.
Try to get your audience out of their seats, laughing, raising hands or even standing by your side to make an analysis. Getting your audience to laugh is not so difficult as you might think. For example, you might try, “Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve was told to announce something very critical to the success of today’s event. Even though I don’t think it’s my place to begin my presentation with an announcement that has nothing to do with my topic.”
“Anyway, I’ve been asked to tell you that in the event that you laugh too hard, don’t cause a stampede or fart too loud.” 😆
If you can request for a cordless lavaliere mic, pls do, so that you can be as flexible with your hands as possible. A handheld mic might become tiring if your presentation takes a while.
Your audience will only remember 30% of what they hear & see but 70% of what they do will stick to them forever.
7. Project your words
Two things that can make your projection so vivid and impactful are a clear voice and clarity of communication. Try to emphasize the last sound of each word which will help you to sound very polished. This may sound odd to you when you start but eventually sound normal as you get used to it.
8. Take a pause
I cannot stress this enough. Take your time to pause! It kinda helps your audience to brainstorm, evaluate and re-evaluate. You shouldn’t say more than six to eight words at a time without a pause. As longer sentences reduce readability, longer spoken words also reduce absorption.
Use a full voice, then pause. Think of great speakers that utilized a full voice and paused. They did efficiently well. Such presentations drop some value within you.
9. Use acronyms
After you have written all the words on index cards, try to think of an acronym or abbreviation that has every point you want to talk about. Use this strategy to keep your presentation in order.
For example, you may have written on a marriage/relationship index card – ask, support, kiss. Think of the first letter in each word and arrange them to ASK or any other word of your choice.
ASK will keep you on track this way:
A – Ask what he thinks
S – Support his opinion first
K – Kiss him when the discussion ends
You must have practised what you will say about each word beforehand. You will only use the acronym to keep track which the audience has no clue about. They will only think you are so perfect! If your oral presentation takes time and involves longer acronyms, you could keep your index card(s) on you just in case you get lost.
10. Give life to figures
The best way to do this is to put a ‘Point’ of mind-gripping information (pictures, graphs, a phrase or table, flow charts, diagrams or a statistic) on some slides and speaking to them.
While the audience is fixated on that slide, all you need do is try to make them see the aspects of the slides that are hidden. Hence, you help to make their imagination make up for the rest of the story.
Such information is alike in features such as introduction, plot build-up, themes climax/anticlimax, a hero and his trials/triumph and so on.
And like a good storyteller or the mythical Pied Piper, the story or the music as the case is, becomes the object of the audience’s attention. The presenter is merely an intermediary.
11. Face the object
Sure, it is not bad to feel weird for a moment. Gain your confidence back by becoming the audience for a moment.
Face the presentation with your hands towards the slide, board or what have you? Making this brief move takes a whole lot of burden off as you see that you do not have to be the audience’s object of attention for a while.
You can use this moment to stealthily move from your weak points to your strong points as you gain your confidence back.
Not all presentations have to be a serious one looking like a board meeting. It doesn’t have to be a brainstorming session to close a million-dollar deal. Smile if you can.
In fact, you should smile. It will reduce any pressure you might be feeling. You never know how powerful a smile can be until you smile at a confused child who looks at you and then returns the smile.
While you smile, make good eye contact with them and gesticulate as often as possible. This will create a good impression on your audience and make them connect with you easily.
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13. Intrigue them with stories
Whether it’s a story your grandfather told you or a story you learnt while growing, people would love to listen. Stories are interesting ways to give your audience a light mood.
Who doesn’t like the taste of a little icing on the cake or peanuts in the chocolate? Just something a little bit different to ease of the whole seriousness of the atmosphere.
Professional speakers are becoming professional storytellers, primarily stories about themselves or someone they know so well. If you can tell a story about each word or topic on your cards or slides, your speech will have a better flow.
14. Take corrections politely
One mistake people do is to try to show that they know better than their judges.
Judges, examiners, instructors or even a member of your audience can come into your presentation abruptly. Prepare your mind ahead for this and don’t fidget.
A simple “Noted, sir” or “sorry, I skipped that” or “thanks for the feedback” would go a long way in determining your final presentation score.
Be courteous and mindful of harsh emotions as you face arguments or oppositions. A wrong approach in dealing with this can ruin everything you have started. So be cool with everyone.
As a matter of fact, who you are and who the audience perceives you to be is a measure of the weight of your words.
Hence, it is safer to use universally acceptable codes of conduct and principles of etiquette that will put you in the good graces of the audience.
15. Predict your audience’ thoughts and tell them
If you’re lucky enough to predict what is on their minds, you’ll get an almost 100% attention from your audience. This lowers the barriers between you and them.
They’ll say “hey, he’s so clever hahaha”. Wow, you’re absolutely right! Tell them you know what they are thinking and answer a question they haven’t yet asked you.
In summary, your oral presentation is highly related to your motion, posture, gesture, gesticulation, eye contact, pausing effect, response to applause and so on.
The evolving nature of education has seen many lecturers and teachers adopt oral examinations as an integral part of grading students’ performance; that is apart from lines of study such as Medicine (Viva) and Law (mock trials) that already have oral related content as a part of their continuous assessment.
It also affords the teacher the opportunity to do more than just teach but to also be a kind of ‘coach’ that nurtures not only the content but also the delivery of knowledge. As a teacher myself, I do subscribe to this method of teaching; after all, was it not Einstein that said – If you cannot explain it simply, then you do not understand it all.
In oral presentations, especially ones that adopt projected information, the words you speak are more important than the words you display.
However, the pictures you use are just as important as the words you speak. In no place is the saying truer – a picture is worth more than a thousand words.
Therefore, being in a position where you have to present your own perspective, with your own words and in your own style goes a long way in shaping your intellectual capabilities. It also builds self-confidence in those that eventually master it.
I wish you a hitch-free and mind-blowing experience in your next oral presentation. 😉 . Which of these tips have helped you tremendously?