Tuesday, April 19, 2016

How to Handle a Hard Presentation: 22 Sure-Fire Tips

Marketing maestro Edward Segal contributed today's post. Edward helps corporations and organizations generate publicity about their activities and shows leaders, staff and members how to deliver effective presentations.

What’s the most important thing you can do if you know that you will be making a presentation to a skeptical audience, at a challenging venue, or in an otherwise difficult situation? 

In a word: prepare.

While it is impossible to ensure that every presentation will go smoothly, there are definitely steps you can take to help stack the deck in your favor.

Here’s how:
  • Don’t accept speaking invitations for which you are unqualified or unprepared. Don’t let your ego get in the way.
  • If you spoke to the same tough group or in the same difficult setting before, ask yourself: What did I learn from the experience?
  • Think twice about giving breakfast speeches if you are not a morning person, or evening presentations if you like to retire early.
  • Do your homework about the audience (demographics, knowledge of the subject matter, special interests or concerns, etc.); ask the sponsoring organization if there are any red flags about the audience you should be aware of (forewarned is forearmed).
  • Ask others who have spoken to the organization what it was like, and what you can learn from their experience.
  • If you accept the speaking invitation, know what you want to accomplish with your remarks.
  • Know the basics about the speaking opportunity (format, length of your presentation, time, location, etc.).
  • Arrive early so you can get a feel for the room where you will be speaking, greet and chat with people as they arrive, etc.
  • Make sure that the layout of the room is to your liking and meets your needs (classroom-style, theatre-style, roundtables, etc.).
  • When you arrive, check with your host to ensure the arrangements, purpose and topic of your presentation have not changed.
  • Know where things are, such as lights, microphones and audio controls, AC and heating controls, water, restrooms, etc.
  • Ensure that you and your audience will be comfortable by checking the heat or AC settings, microphone settings, lighting levels, extraneous or distracting noise, etc.
  • Check out any that stairs you must climb to get on or off the stage. This will help you to avoid tripping over unfamiliar steps.
  • Don’t tell jokes unless you’ve already proven that you can tell jokes well. There’s nothing funny about no one laughing at your jokes.
  • Make sure your audience can see you. Don’t hide behind the podium.
  • Do not hide your gestures. Keep your hands up where your audience can see them!
  • Maintain a good posture when standing or sitting. No slouching!
  • If audience members do not have access to a microphone, be sure to repeat questions before answering them. This helps ensure everyone in the room hears what was asked.
  • Respond honestly to questions. It’s okay to say "I don’t know."
  • Don’t allow one person to monopolize the session. ("Let’s meet afterwards to talk about this.")
  • Summarize/rephrase lengthy questions for the audience. ("Let me make sure that I understand what you are asking...")
  • Do not allow Q&A sessions to drag on. Signal to your audience that the session is almost over. ("We have time for one more question.")
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