Up to now, our lessons have focused on creating the presentation structure and visuals that you will use. Unfortunately, if you don’t present the slides well, the effectiveness of your message suffers dramatically. In today’s lesson, I want to share some tips on delivering PowerPoint slides in a way that is smooth and seamless and allows the audience to focus on your message instead of being distracted by the use of technology.
Practice is not enough, you also need to rehearse
A few years ago I read an article in Presentations magazine that clearly showed why it is important to practice and rehearse. What is the difference you ask? Practice is when you run through the ideas in your head or sitting at your desk. This helps you get the flow and make sure you are covering what you need to. But practice isn’t enough. Unless you actually speak the words you intend to say, you don’t know whether it comes across properly or how long it will take. Rehearsing is standing up and delivering your presentation, using the equipment like it will be during the presentation. Rehearsals are the only way to make sure you are prepared.
Arrive Early and Test Everything
No matter where you are presenting - meeting room down the hall or in a conference center across the country - you should always arrive early. Why? Because if there is something that needs to be fixed - seating arrangement, A/V equipment, etc. - you will have the time to do something about it. Make sure you test the A/V setup and microphone if you are using one and that your slides look good on the screen. If you run in five minutes before you are scheduled to start, you may be in trouble if everything isn't exactly as you thought it would be. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to adjust something about the room or equipment to make my workshop or conference presentation the best it can be for the audience.
Be prepared for disaster
If you haven’t had something fail in one of your presentations yet, just wait – it will at some point in time. I’ve had it happen a number of times so far. You need to be prepared for this because I say it is not a matter of "if" this will happen to you, it is only a matter of "when". I always use handouts that I distribute before I start. It allows the audience to take notes that are relevant to them and acts as a backup tool if the equipment fails. If something does happen during the presentation, spend no more than four minutes trying to get everything working before you move to your backup plan. The audience is there to hear your message, not see you fiddle around with the equipment.
Can preparing and delivering a presentation be fun? Sure it can! I have fun every time I present. It’s a choice you make to enjoy sharing your message with this audience on this day. As an audience member, I am sure you’d rather have a presenter that has a smile on their face instead of a frown. So go ahead and enjoy your next presentation using the tips I’ve provided in the last seven days.
To learn more, I recommend these resources
If what you’ve learned in the last seven days via this e-course has made sense to you, let me share how you can take this further. I deliver customized workshops and conference sessions that teach presenters how to use persuasive visuals to improve the effectiveness of their presentations. If you’ve benefitted from this e-course, chances are that you and your colleagues would get even more benefit from one of my workshops. Ask your manager or training coordinator to check out all the details on my workshops on my web site by clicking here. I’ll be happy to work with them to design and deliver exactly the content your group needs, including slide makeovers of your own slides so you can see how the ideas apply to the topics you present regularly. Click here to learn more about these workshops.
Dave Paradi has over twenty years of experience delivering customized training workshops to help business professionals improve their presentations. He has written nine books and over 100 articles on the topic of effective presentations and his ideas have appeared in publications around the world. His focus is on helping corporate professionals visually communicate the messages in their data so they don’t overwhelm and confuse executives. Dave is one of less than ten people in North America recognized by Microsoft with the Most Valuable Professional Award for his contributions to the Excel and PowerPoint communities. He regularly presents highly rated sessions at national and regional conferences of financial professionals.