Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for November, 2012

A strong presentation is about engaging your audience.

The most significant factor in successfully delivering a presentation is how well you engage and connect with your audience. Here are a few considerations and tips that may prove useful the next time you’re preparing for that important presentation:

– Create a simple “flow chart” of the content areas of your presentation for easy reference and review. Seeing the flow of the of the presentation in segments as you practice may help you better internalize the content of the presentation versus focusing on delivering the content verbatim. (Although verbatim could work as long as you are genuinely connecting with the content and your audience.)

– In the weeks and days before the event, visualize your presentation as a comfortable, successful, downright perfect presentation. Imagine yourself at your absolute best and really enjoying the experience. Relax your hands as you visualize. Later, as you actually present, relaxing your hands may connect you immediately to that positive feeling you had in your visualization.

– Anchor your body by placing your weight into both feet evenly (feet about shoulder’s length apart). This will help you feel stronger and it’ll avoid swaying—which can be distracting. Movement is OK, yet it’s most effective when it’s intentional.

– As you begin and greet everyone, take it slow and offer and enjoy a genuine connection to the audience. Make brief eye contact with others as you look around the room. If you’re able to shake hands or talk with audience members before a presentation begins, even better.

– If you find yourself nervous, breathe! A good strong healthy breath can do wonders for nerves. And don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you’re feeling a bit nervous in a confident and genuine way (if you feel you need to or it’s getting in the way of your moving forward). Saying something like…. “Ah, let me take a deep breath and enjoy the opportunity I have with you today”…can give you a moment to regroup and as long as you remain authentic and confident, and smoothly move on, it can help an audience relate to you and work in your favor.

– Shift your thinking from “presenting” to sharing information in service to your audience. If you can get in touch with your passion about what you’re sharing, your body movements are likely to be more natural and your voice will naturally take on more intonation. In turn, your expression will be more engaging and your audience will be more engaged. In other words, enjoy the experience and so will your audience!

There are many more skills, tools and techniques that can help when preparing and delivering a presentation. These are just a few from my personal toolbox. If you have any great tips to offer that have really helped you, I hope you’ll comment and share them with other readers.