Expressing You! ~ Bringing your Presentation to Life
are an investor, entrepreneur, employee, self-employed or
unemployed the ability to present yourself and your ideas
powerfully has never been more important than in todayís dynamic
information age. Speaking well can influence otherís views,
close a deal, motivate your team, enhance your business, and
elevate your reputation.
Many people get jitters speaking in public. Lilly Walters author
of "Secrets of Successful Speakers" says 75% of stage fright can
be reduced by rehearsal and preparation, 15% by deep breathing,
and 10% by mental preparation. Thorough preparation alleviates
anxiety and ultimately provides a consistent structure for
achieving extraordinary results.
Create template presentations before you need them. If you
use power point, keep text to a minimum with only one idea,
no more than six lines per slide, large, readable, and
consistent fonts. Most business people prefer little to no
slide animation. Summarize often. Never read from your
slides/flipcharts and always face your audience. Remember,
you are the star not your visual aids.
Customize for your audience. Go to websites and printed
materials to gather information like vision, mission and
values first. Then interview relevant people to find out
where the "pain" is in relation to your product, service, or
topic. Ask questions like, what are the internal/external
challenges/changes your organization is currently facing?
What is the objective/purpose for the meeting? What result
would you like to see achieved? Are there others presenting?
If so, who are they and where are they on the schedule? How
much time will I have? How much Q&A should be included in my
total presentation time? Is there anything else you could
add to help me do an even better job?
Get details like the date, directions to venue, meeting
start/end times, presentation start/end times, dress code,
attendees, VIPís, agenda, equipment availability, etc. If
youíre flying in, ask about the closest airport and number
of miles/kilometers to venue, recommended transport from
airport to meeting site or hotel and all contact phone
numbers. If you are meeting overseas, inquire about business
and cultural etiquette.
Organize memorable openings and closings by asking a
question, mentioning something relevant in the news, using a
quotation or audio/video clip. Most adults are visual so be
creative. Weave humor throughout your talk. If you donít
consider yourself to be funny, use humorous photos,
drawings, unusual clip art, quotes or media clips. Never
tell a story or joke that would remotely offend anyone.
Relate your closing to your opening coming full circle.
Answer questions. End with a strong summary and a compelling
call to action.
When your content is ready, start practicing aloud. Pay
special attention to or memorize your beginning, key points,
and ending. If you need insurance, use note cards or visual
cues. During this process, you will inevitably make
revisions and improvements. After rehearsing aloud several
times, record yourself on video. Time yourself. Watch your
practice session and make adjustments until you are
comfortable with your content and delivery.
Plan what to wear in advance choosing clothes that make you
look and feel great. Dress appropriately. To gain instant
respect and boost your confidence, dress a bit better than
your audience does.
Reconfirm date, time, venue, and agenda. If you are
traveling for your meeting, pack early including a checklist
for last minute items. Always have a multimedia CD backup,
wireless remote and carry everything you will need for your
presentation with you. To be safe, carry an extension cable,
a power strip, adaptors, and backup batteries.
The day before and the day of an important presentation,
avoid alcohol, smoke, caffeine, chocolate, and
antihistamines because of their drying effects. If flying,
recycled air in planes is dehydrating and speaking above
engine noise can put a strain on your voice so talk as
little as possible in-flight. A moist vocal tract will give
you the best sound with the least amount of physical
exertion. To stay hydrated, consume eight to ten glasses of
To prevent excess mucus, avoid dairy products and sugar.
Grain alcohol, vodka, beer, and red wine can also increase
mucus. If you cannot avoid alcohol, choose white wine before
Sufficient sleep is absolutely essential to maximum
||In the morning, do a good physical workout to give you energy and focus for the day.
Do some self-massage and vocal warm ups in the
shower. Massage the base of your tongue, the
temporomandibular joint (just by your ears between
your cheeks and jaw) and neck and shoulders. Make
funny faces to exercise facial muscles, do your
favorite tongue twisters, and sing an uplifting
Before and during your presentation, drinks should
be without carbonation and not too hot or too cold.
Avoid combining protein and starch in the same meal
and only eat fruit on an empty stomach.
Run through your presentation physically if you have
Arrive early. Set up well in advance. Test and
double-check all equipment.
Own the room imagining your energy fills the entire
space extending to all walls and corners. State your
intention aloud four times facing a different wall
or direction each time. (i.e. "to win the business")
Close your eyes. In your mindís eye, imagine a
person, place, or thing that you love. If you are
religious or spiritual, you may want to connect with
your higher power. Allow six or more deep breaths.
Breathe in love on the inhale and on the exhale, let
go of any tension, anxiety, or stress.
With your eyes still closed, mentally run through
your presentation. Visualize success seeing your
Play a fast piece of music you love, dance, or walk
briskly around the presentation room to pump
yourself up and burn excess adrenaline. If itís not
possible for you to do this, run in place or jump up
and down for 20-30 seconds somewhere private. If
neither is possible, do simple isometric exercises,
tensing and releasing muscles while sitting or
Acknowledge yourself for the time and energy you
have invested to do your best. Trust and BE
Start and stop on time. Address audience comfort before you
begin. Be flexible and able to cut your presentation short,
if necessary. Make direct eye contact and speak to your
audience as if you were having a conversation with a friend.
Move around and gesture freely. Smile, have fun, and be
enthusiastic about what you are saying. Focus on delivering
maximum value to your listeners. Now, it is all about them.
If you can, record all of your presentations on video for
playback and feedback. A discreet alternative is a
pocket-sized audio recorder. Recordings are especially
useful for capturing questions, objections, comments, and
action items. Always leave a handout, flyer, brochure, or
business card making it easy for people to contact you.
The path to mastery is practice. Confucius said, "A journey
of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Enjoy the
This article was first published in 2005 by XL Magazine,
Graphics copyright ~ XL Magazine
Copyright © 2006
~ Deborah Torres Patel ~ All rights reserved
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