You and Your Audience
Sharing information in a public venue
Whichever stage you’re in, beginner or experienced presenter, you can always use (a little or maybe even a “lottle”) help. For first timers, maybe it’s a lot of audience analysis and building an appealing, effective presentation. For the more experienced, it might be followup and feedback and some new tips and material to freshen your presentation.
Five basic steps for a successful presentation.
1. Identify and Define Your Audience. This is rather like target marketing for business. Consider age, location, common interests, needs, goals, preferred presentation techniques and tools. For example, with older people hearing and eyesight play a major factor. Don’t use small handout material (that will take their attention from you while you’re speaking – project images onto a large screen behind you). And use a mike, don’t depend on people hearing you at the back of the room. A young, hip, sophisticated audience will expect a fast pace, lots of technical tools, like internet, hand-held devices.
2. Prepare a presentation directed toward your specific audience. Ask how long you have for your presentation, then build an outline that will fit your time frame. Write your commentary and select visual aids that will help you follow it. Use rough notes while presenting, but don’t have it so complete that you end up reading rather than speaking. A little spontaneity is good. Too much is not. Practice keeping to your timeline, so you don’t wander off into tangential topics. Allow time for questions and answers, but be prepared to limit Q&A sessions so you don’t run out of time. Get all your tools together, and if someone is helping you with a projector, or sound system, or other device, they should practice with you.
3. Be comfortable and confident when presenting. Discuss your introduction ahead of time with the person introducing you. At the event, wear something that won’t make you too hot (think sweat stains…), too cold (think blue lips, teeth chattering), or cause discomfort when moving around (high heels, tight clothes, throat-choaking tie or scarf). And dress (up or down) to suit your audience. If using a mike, hold it close enough to be heard, but don’t swallow it or cover up your face. If there will be windows behind you, ask that the blinds be closed, especially if you are using a projector and screen. Get there early. Setup all audio and visual aids well ahead of time and test them. Allow time, once set up, to leave the premises to relax a little. Be on time when you return. (And if you had something to eat, check your teeth!) When speaking, move around, talk to and make eye contact with your audience. Use gestures to illustrate a point. Take questions, give quick concise answers. STICK TO YOUR TIMETABLE. And finish on time!
4. Follow-up and review the presentation. Generally, we will attend your presentation, help with any part of it (such as handling the projector or sound system), and give you confidence. Consider us your cheerleading squad! After your presentation, we will then meet with you to critique your performance. During a “Play-back Review”, we will make suggestions for improvements and offer praise where it went well. (No matter what you said, who you said it to, and how you said it, there is always room for improvement.) Together we can figure out how it might be improved, what worked and what didn’t, what could be added next time to make it better.
5. Pre- and Post-event Publicity. Promotion ahead of the event to increase audience awareness and attendance. Post-event coverage which will help you get more offers for future public presentations. We will help with graphic, visual, and audio publicity. This might include newspaper articles, radio or tv announcements (the latter with a short video clip of you), uTube, Facebook, Twitter, or other Social Media announcements.