"People who know what they are talking about don't need a powerpoint" - Steve Jobs
Giving presentations can be an unnerving business. There is so much you need to say, but so little time to say it in. Or maybe you feel that there is too much time and you are not sure how you are going to fill it.
And there is this big stage, that intimidating podium, a large audience full of the people whom you like to call “colleagues” but at this moment they look like your competitors and your judges.
Your research is good, but you get nervous speaking in public and are worried that you won’t do yourself and your science justice.
Sound familiar? Public speaking is a challenge to most people.
But there are several steps that can be taken to meet this challenge and to ensure that you give the best possible presentation.
Tips for powerpoint Presentation
A presentation is:
7% of Words
38% of voice tone
55% of body language
Start strongly (Image, story) to captivate the audience.
Introduce the problem
Not more than 10 slides.
Not more than 20 minutes.
Front size no less than 30 point. keep it clear, simple and concise.
Take questions in the middle of the presentation, not at the end. This way it fills up the space for more content after and you can adjust the conclusion to address the questions.
Keep your body open (When we are nervous we try to hide vital organs) and have the palms open !
Don't touch the podium ! Keep a confortable distance and use your hands for gesture
VISUALISE your presentation. At the time you'll have to perform, your mind will know what to do !
C like... Calm
Stage fright affects many people and can lead to nervous, rapid presentations where you might capture the audience’s sympathy – but for the wrong reasons.
If you to tend to feel nervous about speaking in public, then find some quiet time before your presentation to relax and focus, maybe taking some deep breaths or using some kind of meditation technique. When you arrive at the podium, again one or two deep breaths will help you to focus. At the same time, you can place your mental attention on the contact between your feet and the floor – this will help lower your centre of gravity and keep you grounded.
Being calm just before you start your presentation is important. But you also have to stay calm while you are giving it. Speaking rapidly – a very common fault – can open the door to nerves.
It is very easy to speak too quickly. It is much harder, in fact, to speak too slowly. If you keep telling yourself “keep it slow”, it will probably come out about right!
As a general rule, 150 words per minute should be your maximum speed, but it is wise to slow down when you are delivering particularly complex information and when you wish to emphasise key points.
C like... Confidence
- You must be confident in yourself and your ability as a speaker.
- You must be confident in the material you are presenting.
Some people seem to have been born with self-confidence, but most of us have to learn it. And that learning is generally acquired through experience. The more presentations you give, the more you will learn and the easier it should become.
Rehearse your presentation, talking out loud. Maybe with an audience of one or two colleagues. Maybe using a tape recorder so that you can later hear yourself and how you are coming across.
If you have prepared well and know your subject inside out, then your overall confidence level will rise. But it is not enough just to know your subject matter.
You need to be 100% familiar with every part of your actual presentation, the specific findings you will be talking about and the specific way you have chosen to present them. Again, rehearsing your presentation will help greatly.
You also need to be confident about handling the technology you need to use for your presentation. So make sure that you know the set-up – the computers, remote controls, projectors, and other devices that you will be using.
C like... Clear
Short sentences are better than long ones. It may also help to deploy key words and phrases that you repeat throughout the presentation.
Make sure that your presentation has a logical structure and that your arguments are presented in a coherent, easy-to-follow way. It is often a good idea to end your presentation with a recap of the main points, clearly expressed.
You also need to be clear about the audience you are addressing: are you speaking to people on the same level, who will have similar knowledge and experience to your own, or are you speaking to an audience which may be unfamiliar with the subject or lack detailed knowledge? Are you speaking to peers, students, or a general audience?
Maybe it is a mixed audience, in which case you need to find a way to address everybody.
You will be speaking in English, which may well not be your native tongue.
Your audience may include many nationalities. So both the words you use and the way you deliver them must take this into account.
If you are not a native speaker, you may sometimes put the stress on the wrong syllable or pronounce words in an unusual way. If you avoid speaking too quickly, this will help people to understand you if your English is not perfect.
Engaging directly with the audience will also help. Looking at people when you are talking to them will create a better response than if you are spending most of the time with your eyes on your notes or looking at the projection screen.
C like... Concise
Don’t waffle. Keep your sentences as short as possible. Give as much detail as you need to give – and the amount of detail will vary according to the type of presentation – but give it in concise chunks.
Oral presentations are different from written papers. The typical structure of a scientific paper – Abstract/Introduction/Experimental Methods/Results/Discussion/Conclusions/References – simply does not work for oral presentations. Yet it is surprising how many speakers cling to this approach.
It does not work because the audience – unlike a reader who can move back and forth through the printed text – will have to remember details about methodology until the results are presented and recall the various results when the speaker is dealing with the discussion, and so on.
So, while repeating yourself is not a good idea in written texts, a little repetition of key points as you go along is something which can help ensure that your presentation stays in the minds of your audience.
In fact, the best approach is to structure your presentation so that there are several interim conclusions along the way, key points that stick in your listeners’ minds and helps keep them focused on your presentation.
The attention curve
Which brings us to another “C” that we need to be aware of: the attention curve.
When you start speaking you will have everybody’s attention. However, attention is easily lost and a good speaker is one who is able to hold an audience throughout the whole presentation.
The best is to follow this simple “1-2-3” model:
- Attention-grabbing comment
So, start by addressing the audience: “Mister/Madam chairman, ladies and gentlemen” and then pause and look around the room to see if people are paying attention. In fact, by doing this you ensure that you do have their attention. You also test the sound system and can judge how loudly you will need to speak.
Then hit them with a dramatic, lively statement or question which gets to the heart of your presentation. Speak slowly to create maximum impact and, of course, practise this opening several times to get it right.
Now you have their attention. The next task is to keep it. This is where the structure of interim conclusions, described above, can really come to your aid.
The problem of wandering attention is even worse these days as a result of the use of mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.
There is nothing more dispiriting than giving a talk and seeing half the audience with their heads buried in their electronic devices. Be prepared to challenge this directly and ask people either to pay attention or to leave the room if they have to surf the internet or if they really would prefer to be playing Candy Crush Saga.
One thing to avoid
Finally, there is another “C” – but this time, one to avoid: Don’t try to be clever.
You may be the cleverest person in the room, but it is never a good idea to let other people know that this is what you think.
Similarly, avoid jokes or references that may not be understood by everyone and which do little more than show off how clever you are. If you are really confident in yourself and your presentation, there is no need to adopt the pose of cleverness.
Hope these tips to give a great presentation will help you for your next session on stage ! 🙂
Thanks a lot for reading and let me know what you feel about this in the comments !