who will be in your audience

7 Steps to Making your Audience Central to Your Presentation

The Local Elections took place recently. We had the usual parade of candidates calling to the door, handing us their literature and asking us to give them our number one vote on polling day. It’s a tough job. I admire anyone who puts themselves forward for public office, and I don’t envy them the task of canvassing door to door for weeks on end.

But what has this to do with public speaking?

One candidate stood out for me. My husband answered the door, so I overheard the interaction. Instead of the usual asking for the vote, this candidate asked was there anything my husband wanted to know about him, or about the Council. This impressed me, and it’s a lesson we can learn when delivering a speech or presentation.

It’s about the audience. The candidate showed an awareness of the voter and was open to addressing any concerns the voter might have. During our presentations, we need to show that same awareness of our audience. What are their concerns and interests? If we are telling our story, it needs to relate to the audience. If they can’t identify with it, then they won’t listen.

7 Steps to Making the Audience Central to Your Presentation
  1. It begins with your preparation. Think about the audience- who they are, what their concerns are. What previous knowledge do they have about your topic? What questions might they have? What resistance could they have to your ideas?
  1. How can you clearly demonstrate that what you are offering will be of benefit to them? Why should they listen to you?
  1. Keep jargon to a minimum and use as little data as possible. Keep your presentation easy for them to understand. There is no benefit in bombarding the audience with lots of information. If they need more, they can ask!
  1. Involve them! Create opportunities for them to engage with your presentation. This could be done with relevant stories, questions or humour, for example.
  1. If you’re using slides, make them easy for the audience to read. That background colour you choose might look great, but if the audience can’t read the font against it, then you’re wasting your time. Make sure the text is large enough to read in the room where you will be presenting. Slides should help the audience to better understand, or remember, your presentation.
  1. Eye contact! Make sure that you connect with the audience by having eye contact throughout your presentation.
  1. You need to be heard clearly from all parts of the room. Do a soundcheck in advance so that you know the volume required, or if you need a microphone.

If you follow these steps, you are showing care for your audience, and you are setting yourself up for a better presentation.

As for the politician- even though I didn’t meet him, his approach made me more open to reading his material and considering him for a vote. Open up your audience to receiving your ideas.

If you would like to see how I could work with you or your team to help create and deliver presentations with impact, contact me for a no-obligation call.

 maureen@softskillsuccess.ie

Unlock Your Public Speaking Confidence

Padlock
Rosette prize

When we were asked to bring a prop to describe our business to last night’s Network Ireland Kildare Branch event, I didn’t have to think about it for very long!

I brought a padlock with me. Why?

So many people are trapped by their fear of public speaking.

Business owners attend networking meetings as ambassadors for their business. They need to communicate clearly in their networking pitch what they do , how they do it and for whom. Poor presentation skills can hinder that communication. 

Maybe their team members are held back by public speaking nerves from contributing at meetings or  avoid delivering work presentations, potentially stalling their career progress.

Or maybe it’s in a social setting- the father of the bride who is dreading the speech on his daughter’s big day. 

Public speaking is a skill, and skills can be learned!

We help individuals unlock 🔓 their public speaking confidence.

We provide presentation skills training that helps individuals to identify their message, create and deliver presentations that communicate their message clearly and competently. 

I was delighted to win “Best Prop” on the night. Thanks to Tara Lane from Centrepiece Rosettes for the lovely rosette prize! 

If you would like to discuss how we could help you or your team unlock your public speaking confidence, contact us for a no-obligation call

https://softskillsuccess.ie/contact/ 

 

 

Preparing for your presentation

7 Step Preparation- Your Key to Successful Presentations

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success” – Alexander Graham Bell 

In my previous Blog post, I spoke about the impact of the fear of public speaking. It can prevent people from speaking up at meetings or they can decline opportunities to deliver presentations. It can even cause their career to stall.

I outlined the 3 P’s to successful presentations- Prepare, Practice and Post-Presentation feedback. Of these, the most important is undoubtedly “Prepare”. This post takes a look at 7 areas that you can focus on in your preparation.  I also have a series of short videos on YouTube  that look at each area.

Audience

who will be in your audience

Establish who will be listening to your presentation. What level of information do they need? Is it a helicopter view, or do you need specific details? What information do they already have that you can build on? What level of resistance might they have and how can you address that?

Purpose

What is the purpose of your presentation? Do you want to inform? Persuade? Motivate? Educate? Decide this at the very start. Write a single sentence stating the purpose clearly. “At the end of this presentation the audience will……..” All content for your presentation revolves around the purpose.

Gather& Filter  

post it notes for brainstorming

Your next step is to brainstorm all possible content that you could include. Write down all your ideas on post- it notes or on a mind map. When you have exhausted all possibilities, start to filter. Use the two criteria that you have established. Ask yourself two questions:  Does it fit with your purpose? Does this audience need to hear it? If the answer to both questions is “Yes”, then keep it. If it’s “No”, then discard it.

Structure

Now that you have the main points that you could include, see how will you structure the main body of the presentation. How long will it be? Will you have one main point with three sub-sections, or will you use three points and sub-divide each? Is there a logical flow between your points? Have you supporting material for each point- a statistic, an example, a story?

Opening

opening your presentation

You have the audience’s full attention at the opening, so use it to your advantage. Grab and hold their attention by using a technique such as telling a story; asking a question; or making an intriguing statement.  

Closing 

presentation closing

Finish on a strong note. If you are taking questions, consider taking them throughout the presentation, or as your second last item. This allows you to summarise your points at the end and conclude with your call to action.

Slides

If you’re using slides, leave their preparation until last so that you know the flow of your presentation. Do you need them? Are they adding to the audience’s understanding, or are they a crutch for you during your presentation? If it’s the latter, then leave them out! There are numerous articles online about how to prepare your slides and I will do a post about it in the future. For now, suffice to say that less is more!

If you would like to see how I could work with you or your team to improve your presentation skills, email me to arrange a no-obligation call. maureen@softskillsuccess.ie

Heading for communication skills

Are You Held Back by Fear of Public Speaking ?

fearful eyes

A Fate Worse than Death?

You probably have heard Jerry Seinfeld’s oft-quoted joke:

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

The accuracy of public speaking  being the number one fear nowadays could be questioned. The original study carried out by R. H. Bruskin Associates took place in 1973.

However, for many people, there is no doubt that the fear of public speaking is real and that fear can prevent them making progress in their careers .

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • You avoid speaking up at meetings
  • You decline the opportunity to give presentations
  • You feel you career has stalled because of your inability to speak in front of others

There are steps you can take to help you become more confident when delivering your presentations or speaking out at meetings. Over the next few weeks, my blog posts will share some tips and techniques to help. In this post, I will give you a brief overview of the 3 P’s of delivering a confident presentation. 

Sharpen the Axe

Abraham Lincoln said “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”

Sharpen your axe before the presentation.

Prepare.

Prepare carefully. What is the key message that you want your audience to take away? When you establish that, build your presentation around it. 

Practice.

Practice the material – be familiar with it. Practice your timing. Practice using your slides. 

Post-Presentation Feedback. 

Before you congratulate yourself on delivering your presentation, think about how you can improve the next time. Maybe you can ask a colleague to give you feedback on certain aspects of the presentation. Or maybe you could video your presentation and watch it back later. Watch to see what went well, and where you can improve next time. 

Effective public speaking takes practice, so start gradually, notice improvements and build on them. 

If you would like help developing public speaking and presentation skills for you, or your team, feel free to contact me to arrange a free 15- minute no-obligation call.

maureen@softskillsuccess.ie

Infographic 3 p's confident presentation