One of the topics people asked me to write about was, how to present to a crowd boldly.
Firstly, I would say if you are picking the subject then, as the diagram shows, pick something you know; something you love; and something the audience cares about.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case and you often have to present on a subject that does not meet any of these criteria.
For me the keys to present boldly are very straightforward:
- Create a clear presentation
- Understand your material inside and out
- Rehearse the presentation
When it comes to creating the presentation: makes sure it flows; that you main points are covered; and facts and figures used are accurate and consistent throughout of the presentation.
I always remember the adage be brief, be bright, be gone.
Try to keep it short and interesting, no matter what the subject, nobody has long attention span, I try and keep it to 20 minutes if possible.
I would look to use images rather than text, as they say a picture paints a thousand words. This way the people are listening to you rather than reading the slides.
Learn your material, think of the questions that people may ask and prepare answers to them. Share the presentation with someone else and ask them what they key messages are and what questions they would ask.
The more you understand the subject, the more confident you will be.
Rehearse the material, think of the emotions you want to generate, and look to use the right tone of voice and pauses to generate the effects you are looking for.
The more you practise the more comfortable you will be. Here I don’t mean read it through once.
Rehearsing means presenting out loud, so you can hear what you are going to say and what you sound like. This will also give you a good feel for how long your presentation will be.
You should look to rehearse a minimum of five times, or at least until you know the presentation by heart without even looking at it, whichever is the longer.
If often write out long hand what I want to say, to ensure I cover all the points.
If possible, present to someone else, and get their feedback.
Ask them what they thought the key messages were and see if they are in line with what you planned.
With a clear presentation, a good understanding of the material, and practise, you should be able to present boldly to any organisation.
One a personal note, I was always nervous before I presented, and I looked to undergo training to try and eliminate the nerves, but what I found was that the nerves were actually a good thing, when I was nervous as I started the presentation seemed much more authentic.
If I didn’t suffer nerves then sometimes the presentation was a little less impactful.