At some point or another, whether you starting out in a new job or even if you’re established in your career or perhaps you’re in school, you may be expected to give a presentation before a group of your peers, colleagues, clients, prospective clients or some other group of people. If you haven’t given a presentation before, it may be difficult to know where to start or to know exactly what to do to have a successful presentation.
Here are five tips for the first-time presenter to make that first presentation a success:
- Get all the details. Find out how much time you have to speak, what kind of props or other presentation materials you will need to prepare (PowerPoint presentation, outlines, response forms, handouts, etc.), if someone is going to be speaking before you or after you, how many people will be in the audience, if there will be a Q&A session, and the list goes on. Find out from those coordinating the event all of these important details so you can properly prepare.
- Know your audience. Part of getting all of the details is to know your audience. Find out the general age group of your audience, along with the general type of personalities they may have (if possible) and what they’re attending this meeting for and what they’re looking to get from it. Knowing who you’re speaking to and being able to find ways to relate to them and to connect with them will only make your presentation easier.
- Prepare, prepare, prepare. Don’t ever go into a presentation expecting to wing it, especially if it’s for work or you’re going to be judged or graded on your presentation skills. Be prepared for all of the possible unexpected circumstances that may arise, such as a laptop not working or another speaker running over and into your time or being called to speak out of order or at a different time than initially told.
- Practice makes perfect. Along with preparation is practice. Practice in front of a mirror, tape record your presentation so you can hear how you sound, and better yet, practice in front of a friend or a group of colleagues that will provide you honest and open feedback about your presentation. This is a great way to gauge your timing and to gauge the general flow of your speech.
- Relax and have fun. Presenters that are overly nervous about presenting can often times make their audience uncomfortable with their nervousness. Take a deep breath and find out what techniques you can use to relax yourself before and during your presentation to get rid of any public speaking jitters. Get eye contact with your audience, smile, use gestures and have fun with your presentation.
- BONUS TIP: Consider additional training. There are plenty of courses available to help you be a better speaker. Consider the Dale Carnegie courses, “Effective Communications & Human Relations/Skills for Success” and “Sales Success” to help you develop the right interpersonal and sales skills for the most effective presentation.
Implementing these five tips when preparing for your first presentation will help you succeed and, who knows, maybe you just gave found a new passion or talent of yours you never knew about and set yourself up to have your first presentation be the first one of many more to come in the future!
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