When presenting, you need to hold your audience's attention, convey information, and persuade people to act, while all the time guarding against anything that could derail your performance.
To help you master this balancing act, here are a few pointers:
Rehearse. Run through the presentation in front of a mirror, in front of a spouse or friend, or in front of your team. Use a cassette recorder or camcorder. Time yourself and add on a few minutes for Q&A.
Don't talk to the screen. If you're using overhead slides or a liquid crystal display (LCD) projector, keep your notes in front of you. Then you can continue to look at your audience while talking about the information on the screen behind you. If you want to point to something on the screen, point to it on the overhead slide or computer monitor instead.
Recap often. If it's a long presentation that covers many steps, help people absorb it or you may lose them somewhere along the way. Summarize, in one or two sentences, what you've covered so far and what the next step will be.
Keep the lights on. Too many things can go wrong in the dark. People may fall asleep, or they may start concentrating on the refreshments. You won't be able to make eye contact or read your notes. If you must lower the lights, dim them just a little, not all the way.
Give handouts. Always give your audience a written summary or outline – after the presentation. There are times when you may need to hand the audience something during your presentation, such as in a training exercise. In such instances, give them only as much material as they need at that point in the exercise.
Above all, relax. A few butterflies in your stomach are OK, but if you're too tense, your performance can quickly go downhill. Remember: you're the expert, you have their attention, you're in command, and you're going to make it worth their while. What's there to worry about?
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