Belinda @ Kids Matter
“It's much easier to be convincing if you care about your topic. Figure out what's important to you about your message and speak from the heart.” Nicholas Boothman
So, you’ve been asked to deliver a presentation in two weeks. The first thing to hit your mind is, “How am I going to pull this off”. The next thing that comes to mind is sheer terror. Before you even start doing the work required to prep for the presentation, you already have sweaty palms and the nervous jitters. Snap out of it! No one is more critical of you, than yourself. Even if you haven’t given a presentation before, by now, you surely have attended one. Was there a free-for-all at the end of it? Did the speaker get pelted with rotten tomatoes? Did they take away the presenter’s birthday? NO! Even if you fail miserably, do the absolute worst job in giving the presentation… what is the worst that can happen, embarrassment? You will live AND be embarrassed many more times through the humor life presents. Lighten up and laugh at yourself. But, chances are, you will actually do a wonderful job and make your point perfectly clear. Is there something you can do to ensure a successful presentation? Absolutely, just do the necessary footwork on the front end and relax! You aren’t giving a ‘save the world speech’ in front of a firing squad.
Suggestions for a successful presentation:
Know your topic – Research, research, research. Yes, research is the key to being knowledgeable of your topic. Don’t just Google the topic and choose the first site that pops up. Truly dig in and read many sites while pulling important information from many sources. And, cite those sources! Someone else did a lot of work to prepare that information and they deserve acknowledgement. Citing sources also gives your presentation foundation and trustworthiness. Utilize more than one search engine, visit your local library, and discuss the topic with a knowledgeable expert.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with statistics – Yes, statistics are great but numbers can get overwhelming. Pick out the most impacting figures to make a concrete point. If the percentage of people who prefer lemonade over tea is not relative to your point being made, then skip it.
Refining your topic – You are given a topic which is probably really broad and you could take many paths. The first thing you need to ask yourself is what is the point of the presentation? Let’s say you were given the topic of WWII. Suddenly, your mind is overwhelmed by all the things you need to cover. Stop… connect yourself with the topic. What do you know about WWII personally, without any research? Maybe you have a grandfather who served in the war. Maybe your family has a piece of history from WWII handed down through the generations. Pick something you can relate to and then proceed with your research.
Utilizing tools for presentation – Nothing removes focus from the speaker more than visual aids. Don’t get too carried away because your message should be the focus. Use aids such as PowerPoint to create your presentation or a flip chart to demonstrate statistics, or a diagram to show points of impact in the presentation. Using handouts helps the audience follow along while you deliver the speech.
Know your target audience – The more you know about the audience that you are presenting in front of, the more your refining skills will allow you to keep the speech targeted for the greatest impact. Let’s say you are giving that WWII speech to a class of middle schoolers. What will most interest them about WWII? The answer will probably be how the war affected them and their little piece of the world. Prior to prepping, talk with someone in the age range of your audience. Ask them what would most hold their interest. Everyone has an opinion.
Relax, smile, and speak in a pleasurable tone. Focus on the information you are giving. Wear comfortable clothing. Make certain you have gathered all of your materials the day before the speech. Practice, practice, practice!! The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become.