Top 11 Presentation/Public Speaking Tips

All of us have suffered through presentations where the presenter has provided too much information on a slide, produced a slide with font sizes that are so small it renders it unreadable, created a slide show that contained far too many slides, etc. Let’s take a look at some information you should understand before composing presentations.

#1 Topic & Purpose

One of the biggest mistakes that a presenter makes is not to clearly identify (and stick to!) the topic of the presentation. It is very effective to have a “cover” slide—much like the cover page of a paper—that might state things like who you are, who you represent, and the main topic(s) of your presentation. PowerPoint offers a way that you can link the topics on the cover slide to future slides—pulling all of the information together.

#2 Stay on Track

Before you begin preparing a slide show, ask yourself the question, “What is the topic of this presentation?” You should re-ask this question periodically throughout the presentation preparation to assure that you are staying on track.

# 3 Purpose

Closely related to identifying and keeping with the topic is determining the purpose of the presentation. Presentations can have the same topic—but much different purposes. Below are some examples of purposes:

# 4 Credibility

To inform—these presentations provide ideas, alternatives, data, or opinions. When giving this type of presentation, you act as a “teacher.” It must be accurate, reliable, and credible. It is important to cite sources and double-check your data.
To persuade—these presentations can change or reaffirm existing attitudes, try to gain audience commitment, or motivate change. Credibility is very important in this type of presentation. Thus, you must conduct conscientious research to provide truthful information. There’s nothing less persuasive than someone suspecting you’re fabricating data just to get them to agree.

# 5 Stimulating Emotions and Feelings

To motivate—these presentations heavily rely on stimulating emotions/feelings. The best way to motivate someone to act is to appeal to his/her needs. Appealing to emotional intensity is critical to putting together a successful motivational presentation.

# 6 Presentations that Acknowledge & Honor

To celebrate—sometimes presentations are made to acknowledge or honor someone, to celebrate an event, etc. When preparing this type of presentation, you should always consider the common ties that bind the participants together.

# 7 Know Your Audience

Continued from previous entry: Another important consideration when preparing a presentation is to analyze your audience. This includes such things as the size of the audience, education level, age, occupational status, attitudes, perspective, etc.

# 8 Make Your Presentation Fit Understanding of Audience

It is important that your audience understands your presentation—that it is clear and concise. Don’t use words/terms that the audience may not be familiar with and don’t use technical expressions or jargon that the audience cannot relate to.

# 9 Know as Much About Your Audience As Possible

Part of putting together a presentation is to find out as much about your audience as possible. An excellently organized presentation can be poorly received if it does not meet the needs and expectations of the audience.

# 10 Choosing Audiovisuals

There are many other audiovisual aids from which to choose when producing a presentation. Below is a brief description of some of these choices.

Overheads/Transparencies

Advantages-Inexpensive and easily available
Disadvantages-Technology can fail (e.g. burned out bulb) and is now considered “old fashioned”

Chalkboards and Flip Charts

Advantages-Do not require electricity, chalkboards are “reusable”
Disadvantages-Hard to “hide” from audience (can’t put a piece of paper over them like an overhead) so can draw attention away from presenter

Audio and Audiovisual Equipment

Advantages-Can bring vivid examples to an audience
Disadvantages-Presents chance of technical failure, requires great effort to ensure that the audience can see and/or hear them

Handouts

Advantages-Inexpensive, don’t depend on technology for their use
Disadvantages-Audience might focus on them and not the presenter

Computer-Generated Presentations

Advantages-Allow for “special effects” such as computer-played video, Internet connection, etc.
Disadvantages-Potential equipment failure and can become “overdone” and gimmicky

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Tips for Public Speaking

# 11 Ethics

Ethics has become a progressively more important issue in today’s workplace. An employee can save himself/herself a lot of headaches (and potential legal problems) if he/she follows the guidelines below:

Ethical Guidelines

Maintain Candor-Candor refers to truthfulness, honesty, and frankness in communication with other people. Although there may be times when openness is not preferred (such as in negotiations), it is usually wise and ethical to be as open as possible.

Keep Messages Accurate

Always try to be as accurate as possible when communicating with others. Ethical communicators don’t “embellish” stories to make them more “juicy.”

Deception

Avoid Deception-Intentional distortion is not only unethical; it can lead to uncomfortable situations. Someone may “call” you on the distortion—and the worse case scenario—it may be the end of your presentation and perhaps the end of the relationship with the customer.

Consistency

Maintain Consistent Behavior-One noticeable example of unethical behavior is saying one thing and doing another. This will quickly jeopardize your image. Consistency between communication and action is imperative to being considered ethical in the marketplace.

Confidentiality

Keep Confidences-When someone tells you something and expects you not to tell anyone else, trust has been placed in you. If you tell someone else and make her/him promise not to tell others, chances are the information will get back to the original source—undermining that person’s confidence in you.

Holding Back Information

Ensure Timeliness of Communication-Holding back information from someone can also be considered unethical. This is especially true when it is done intentionally. It’s not always what you say, but what you don’t say.

Confront Unethical Behavior

To maintain a consistent ethical viewpoint, you must confront unethical behavior when you observe it. Public acknowledgement of the behavior isn’t always necessary, but confronting someone privately sends the message that you are not tolerant of such activity.

Be Sensitive to Those Troubled by Unethical Behavior

Cultivate Empathic Listening-By lending a sensitive ear to those who are troubled by unethical behavior, you can better understand and help to solve the problems associated with these acts.