There are five key areas to understand when improving upon presentation skills:
· Voice Management
· Body Control
· Content Delivery
· Time Management
· Handling Questions and Answers
I covered Voice Management and Body Control on Wednesday.
Content delivery is where most speakers' weaknesses are magnified. It is also, where they assume they are safest. After all, they either created the material or have knowledge related to the subject or product area. The problem with content delivery is the speakers' familiarity with the subject matter. Too often, they think it unnecessary to address what is on each slide. Content delivery consists of clearing a slide, subject knowledge, connecting the presentation to the audience and providing a personal connection to the presentation. Every slide needs to be cleared. Clearing a slide requires the speaker to address each bullet point. It does not mean reading each bullet point. However, the speaker should realize that the audience is going to try to read the slide material. Either provide the time or else the speaker words will be lost as the audience hurries to read anyway. To keep the presentation fresh and interesting, I suggest having contemporary stories to provide additional meaning and context to what is being presented. Including information related to your competition, partners, the industry as a whole or even current events. Finally, look to your own experiences and include them as well. The audience wants to learn and be entertained but they also want to like you.
Time management is my personal pet peeve. When a speaker is told to speak for fifteen minutes then they should finish in fifteen minutes. Most of the time speakers believe that if the audience is engaged they can go over their time allotment. This is being discourteous to the speakers that follow. Moreover, if the other speakers insist on using their allotted times then everyone's schedule is impacted including the audience. I carry a pocket watch that I lay on a podium or table within easy eyesight. Good time management means ending early or on time. As for those of you acting as facilitators or panel leads, you should also recognize the need to stay on schedule and provide equal time to each member of your panel.
Finally, there is the Handling of Questions and Answers. Listen to the question, repeat it to the audience, begin the answer by speaking directly to the questioner and complete the answer by developing eye contact with other members of the audience. Your answer is for the entire audience not just the person asking the question. Never allow the time for Q&A to go into the next speaker's slot. Too many panel leads and speakers allow that cutting into the next speaker's available time. End the Q&A on time. Invite audience members to speak to you after the presentation or invite them to call or send an email.
Giving presentations should be rewarding for the audience and you, the speaker. Study the five points I have covered and practice, practice, practice.
See you on Monday with a great new recipe!