Nothing frightens a public speaker more than the prospect of the audience falling asleep during the speech. Here are some things you can do to prevent that from happening.
- 1. Don’t Forget Your Purpose
Too many presentations ramble on and on with no clear sense of purpose. The temptation is to throw in every clever quotation and every interesting fact you can muster that is even remotely related to the purpose of your presentation. The reason that this temptation is so big is that you most likely have not identified what you hope to accomplish with your presentation. In other words, you have not pinned down your purpose.
Do not confuse a presentation’s title with its purpose. Suppose that you are asked to give a presentation to a prospective client on the advantages of your company’s new, improved ChronoSimplastic Infindibulator. Your purpose in this presentation is not to convey information about the new Infindibulator, but to persuade the client to buy one of the $65 million beasties. The title of your presentation may be Infindibulators for the ‘90s, but the purpose is to “convince these saps to buy one, or maybe two.”
- 2. Don’t Become a Slave to Your Slides
PowerPoint makes such beautiful slides that the temptation is to let them be the show. That is a big mistake. You are the show, not the slides. The slides are merely visual aids, designed to make your presentation more effective, not to steal the show.
It is tempting to dim the lights, hide behind the lectern, and let your slides do the talking for you. Keep the slides in their place.
- 3. Don’t Overwhelm Your Audience With Unnecessary Detail
On November 19,1863, a crowd of 15,000 gathered in Gettysburg to hear Edward Everett, one of the nation’s most eloquent orators, speak for two hours about the events that had transpired during the famous battle. When Everett finished, Abraham Lincoln rose to deliver a brief two-minute postscript that has since become the most famous speech in American history.
If PowerPoint had been around in 1863, Everett probably would have spoken for four hours. PowerPoint practically begs you to say too much. After you get cranking on that outline, the bullets just fly, one after the other. Pretty soon, you have 40 slides for a 20-minute presentation. That is about 35 more than you probably need. Try to shoot for one slide for every two to four minutes of your presentation.
- 4. Don’t Neglect Your Opening
As they say, you get only one opportunity to make a first impression. Don’t waste it by telling a joke that has nothing to do with your presentation, apologizing for your lack of preparation, or listing your credentials. Don’t pussyfoot around; get right to the point.
The best openings are those that capture the audience’s attention with a provocative statement, a rhetorical question, or a compelling story. A joke is OK, but only if it sets the stage for the subject of your presentation.
- 5. Be Relevant
The objective of any presentation is to lead your audience to say, “Me too.” Unfortunately, far too many presentations leave the audience thinking, “So what?”
The key to being relevant is giving your audience what it needs, not what you think is interesting or important. The most persuasive presentations are the ones that present solutions to real problems rather than opinions about contrived problems.
- 6. Don’t Forget the Altar Call
You’ve spent hours putting your presentation together. Don’t forget to ask for the order. Invite your audience to respond and show them how. Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Tell ‘em your 800 number. Roll the pen across the table. Give the altar call. (The buses will wait.)
- 7. Practice, Practice, Practice
Somehow a rumor got started that Abraham Lincoln hastily wrote the Gettysburg Address on the train, just before pulling into Gettysburg. In truth, Lincoln agonized over every word of the address.
Practice, practice, practice. Work through the rough spots. Polish the opening and the altar call and all the awkward transitions in between. Practice in front of a mirror or with a tape recorder. Time yourself.
- 8. Don’t Panic
Don’t worry! Be happy! Even the most gifted public speakers are scared silly every time they step up to the podium. Whether you’re speaking to one person or ten thousand, relax. In 20 minutes, it will all be over.
No matter how nervous you are, no one knows it except you. That is, unless you tell them. The number-one rule of panic avoidance is “Never apologize for your fears.” Behind the podium, your knees may be knocking hard enough to bruise yourself. However, no one else knows. After you swab down your armpits and wipe the drool off your chin, people will say, “Weren’t you nervous? You seemed so calm!”
- 9. Expect the Unexpected
Expect things to go wrong because they will. The light bulb in the overhead projector will burn out. The microphone won’t work. You’ll drop your notes as you approach the podium. Who knows what else?
- 10. Above All Else, Don’t Be Boring
An audience can overlook almost anything, but one thing they cannot overlook is being bored. Above all, you must never bore your audience.
This guideline doesn’t mean that you have to tell jokes, jump up and down, or talk fast. Jokes, excessive jumping, and rapid speech can be as boring as formatting disks. If you obey the other commandments – if you have a clear-cut purpose and stick to it, avoid unnecessary detail, and address real needs – you’ll never be boring. Just be yourself and have fun. If you have fun, so will your audience.
By the way, you can burn your PowerPoint Presentation with Moyea PPT to DVD Burner Pro to DVD to play it on a DVD player, or convert it into a video via Moyea PPT to Video Converter to upload it to Youtube. Just try it.
- PowerPoint Lecture Room 1: Ways to Make an Excellent PowerPoint
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- 7 Best Ways To Convert PowerPoint Presentations to Video
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