This section of the book sets forth a process for designing and giving your presentation:
• Organizing your presentation. You'll want to begin by roughing out the general structure of your presentation—making sure it has an absolutely clear organization. If it doesn't, listeners will probably get lost, and listeners who get lost rarely find their way back. The good news is there's an organization—a pattern— that works for most business presentations.
• Using examples. Many presentations depend on the audience's understanding a new term—things like radiometry, type amendment, live-fire vulnerability testing, upselling, and so on. How can you be sure you communicate your key terms? The answer: examples. In fact, a well-placed example can be the difference in whether your audience even knows what you're talking about.
• Remembering what you plan to say. This is where most presentations get derailed. Once you've decided what to say, you need to remember it, and there are various ways to do that. Memorizing is the worst way. Well-designed visual aids are often the best.
• Choosing visual aids. Most business presentations rightly depend on visual aids. But when should you use an overhead projector? A flip chart? A computer presentation? Thirty-five-millimeter slides? You need to know the advantages and disadvantages of each.
• Designing visual aids. What should you keep in mind as you design your visual aids? How much material you put on them is extremely important. Put too little on, and you and your audience may get lost. Put too much on, and you end up simply reading aloud. Put the words in the wrong place, and people in the back of the room may not be able to see them.
• Designing computer presentations. These shouldn't be simply static "transparencies" projected from computers. It's important to use the computer technology fully, emphasizing meaningful activity on the screen to keep the audience's attention just where you want it at all times.
• Using audience participation. Most good presentations have energy flowing through them. There are ways to involve your audience even in formal speaking situations. There are also pitfalls, especially with humor, that you must be aware of.
Rehearsing. Once you have prepared the content for your presentation, you need to rehearse. Rehearsing just means standing and saying the words to an empty room, right? To some extent, but there are other things you can do to make your rehearsing more efficient. Good speakers often spend a lot of time rehearsing.
Setting up the room. If the room is too hot or people can't see your visual aids, you're not going to communicate well. Sometimes you don't have much control of the room, but most speakers have more control than they suspect. I'll cover what to look for in each room and how to keep problems from happening. There's a real art to this.
Using effective techniques of delivery. Even with a perfect design, a presentation will surely fail if the speaker qualifies for The Guinness Book of Records for nervous pacing and "uh's" per second. There are important do's and don't's you should know.
Presenting visual aids. The best visual aids in the world are sometimes worthless unless you know how to present them to your audience: where to stand, how to use a pointer, when to read your visual aids aloud, and when not to.
Handling questions and answers. What happens when your formal presentation is over? Are you out of the woods yet? Most of the time you're not: there's a question and answer session. You can prepare for this, too. It can even be the most powerful part of your presentation.
Helping others speak better. I'll finish with some advice on helping your co-workers be better speakers.
Does all this sound like a lot of work? Well, "effortless" presentations are usually the product of a lot of effort. But the more you understand about presentations, the more comfortable you'll be in preparing them and—more important—in giving them.
That is, the more you feel in control, the more confident you'll be when the spotlight goes on . . . and you're in it.
So let's get started!
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