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Thursday, August 7, 2014

5 Steps to Delivering an Award-Winning Presentation

I’m a firm believer that the way in which you present information is as important, if not more important than the information itself. Audiences are very quick to make snap judgments and if their attention isn’t captured almost immediately you may lose them forever. Here are 4 steps to delivering an attention-grabbing presentation:

Develop a captivating opener: According to a recent story in Inc., Nalini Ambady, a Harvard experimental psychologist who studied nonverbal aspects of teachers, learned that people make decisions based on first impressions. Ambady filmed teachers for 10 seconds. Then, observers rated the teachers on a 15-item list of personality traits. Ambady then filmed the teachers for 5 seconds and again for 2 seconds. The observers’ ratings were the same. Her conclusion was that anything beyond the first impression was useless. A captivating opener could be a personal anecdote, a startling statistic, or quotation.

Prepare, Prepare, Prepare: Write out your entire speech and memorize it front to back. Once you have your speech committed to memory, write down bullet points on note cards to help you recall your points while speaking. However; once you have your speech memorized you shouldn’t need your note cards. Think of them as your security blanket - there if you need them.

Practice, Practice, Practice: Practice your speech in front of the mirror, your spouse, your dog, and your best friend. Practice in front of anyone who will listen. Let your audience give you feedback as to how you deliver the information. Your speech might be extraordinary, but if you fidget and sweat throughout; your audience will focus on that instead of your story. Make solid eye contact, stand strong, and speak purposefully.

Videotape Yourself: In college, I took a terrifying advanced public speaking course.  Every speech was videotaped. Every. single. speech. After seeing the first video, I was mortified to watch as I twirled my hair throughout the entire speech. A nervous habit I didn’t catch until I saw it with my own two eyes. Watch yourself on video. You might be surprised at gestures or uneasy movements you make that could affect your credibility as an expert or impact your presentation.

Create a Take-Away: Develop a resourceful handout that outlines your presentation’s major points. Be sure to include your contact information. Do not give your audience the handout at the beginning of the presentation, unless your want them reading it instead of listening. The point of the handout is to remind your audience of the crucial points given during your presentation.  A creative takeaway could be a flash drive with your presentation saved to it. Flash drives have always been a big hit for my presentations and are much less likely to be thrown in the trash on the way out of the conference room.

Powerful presentations can be a great marketing asset to your company if you take the time to deliver the information in an appealing approach. Preparation, confidence and a little ingenuity will go a long way in leaving a lasting impact on your audience. Happy presenting!
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