Basic Presentation Skills

Presentation is a communication process of transmitting the message from the presenter to the audience. This message can vary in length and complexity. Different presentation aids can be used e.g. flip chart, PowerPoint presentation with the video beamer, whiteboard with erasable pens, laser pointers, etc. Presentation can be done in different circumstances in a more or less formal way.

In fact, everybody is in the position to be a presenter at some point. At school, at the university, during the business presentation or even you can be a professional presenter. Now we come to common problem for most of the people. This problem is “Stage Fright” combined with lack of technical skills of presenting.

Stage fright can be really terrifying to some people. Many people have the fear of the audience, lights of the stage, they are afraid what will be if someone ask them difficult question. This is causing nervousness, sweating, accelerated heartbeat, dizziness or even panic attacks.

On the other hand, presenting skills are technical aspect. Presentation skills are a broad area. It takes some time to develop this skill, for some people more, for the other less time, depends of a talent. Since all of us can be in situation to be presenters, to be in the center of the audience, it is useful to learn basic skills of presenting.

Anybody can prepare at least a decent presentation. Presentation takes some time and effort for preparation. During preparation try to follow basic rules:

· You need to have a minimum of expertise in the area of presentation. This means that you cannot just learn your lines that you will say during the every slide, but you also need to be prepared to answer to potential questions from the audience. Simply, you need to have at least the basic knowledge on the subject presented.

· Make concept for your presentation ( intro, main part, conclusion ). Your presentation needs to have meaningful flow. It should have a theme, the message and learning for your audience. Set up learning goals for your audience and check the results at the end. Longer presentation should have detailed agenda developed.

· Use aids ( power point or flip chart ), but remember that you are still one who is presenting, not the slides. Do not exaggerate with the presentation aids. They should assist you, instead you assist to them.

· Use not more 3-4 lines of text on presentation slides, with maybe 1 photo. If you put too many details, nobody will read it. Average audience is not reading the content of the slide, in case that there are too many details on it. Slides should be clear in content, visible for everybody in your audience, with graphic and color that will not distract audience, or make them difficult to read. If you are not skillful with graphic and colors, use predefined templates.

· Exercise your presentation, so that you get a feeling about it. Check all slides before presentation. Check the video beamer, cables, remote control, room lights and other technicalities before beginning of presentation. Check the colors and readability, since video beamer can present colors in different way than your computer screen. Distorted colors can make reading difficult or impossible.

· Assess the time needed for you presentation and check the timing during your rehearsals. If your presentation is longer, divide it in sections ( e.g. 45 min ) with breaks ( e.g. 10 min ). Time management is critical during the presentation, since audience might start to feel bored if presentation is too long. You can even not finish your presentation, if it takes too long time.

· Try to move around during your presentation. Use your body language. If you just stand still in one place, you will become invisible soon to you audience and their eyes and mind might start to wander around. By moving your self and using your body language, in accordance the dynamic of the subject presented, you are keeping the audience alerted.

· Use examples for your statements. That can be your experience or something you read. If you are using somebody’s examples, quote source of information. You can even say a short story or saying, if you find it suitable for supporting your presentation.

· Use humor in your presentation. This can be planned or spontaneous, but within limits that will not change normal flow of presentation.

· Ask questions to the audience. Ask for volunteers, or pick someone to answer. This will help you to keep the audience alert. They will pay more attention to your presentation, since they know that you might ask them later on. Asking questions will make your presentation more interactive, more interesting to the audience and easier for you, since you will animate people to participate.

· Do not say something like “Sorry about my presentation” or “I am nervous”. I remember some of my friends that used to say something like that during the presentation. I found that to be wrong, since their presentations were actually good and I wouldn’t ever guess that they are nervous or unprepared, if they didn’t say something like that. If you state that you apologize because you are not a good presenter, you are ruining your credibility before you even started. Even if you are a bit nervous there is no reason to say that.

Actually, everybody, even the most experienced presenters, have some “stage fright”. It is normal. But as soon as the presentation starts, you will be released, since you will involve your energy into the presentation.

I am not “born presenter”, since I am an introvert person, but I learned some basic presenting skills and I am using them during occasional business presentation.

Finally, you are born without knowledge of speaking any language, without knowledge of mathematics, without knowledge of driving the bike or a car. But you learned that and adopted these knowledge a

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