Three Steps to Good Presentation Skills and Public Speaking
Good presentation skills and public speaking begin with preparation. Like any other written or visual communication the key here is to prepare, prepare, prepare.
There are a lot of good books available. It is a good idea to join a public speaking practice group like the International Toastmasters for example. Doing it is the best way to learn.
Here are three keys to preparing your presentations and public speeches which I find have worked best for me.
1. Identify and organize what you will be presenting on a sheet of paper.
2. Break it down into 3 major headings with 3 sub-headings under each.
3. Write the content of your sub-headings then edit to fit on 3x5 or 4x6 cards as needed.
1. Identify and organize what you are presenting on a sheet of paper:
Identify your topic and give it a name, a title, ex.: Four Steps to Good Presentation Skills and public Speaking.
Identify the time frame you will have for your presentation or speech -- let's use 45 minutes for easy sub-dividing.
2. Break it down into 3 major headings with 3 sub-headings under each:
Your 45 minutes will give you 15 minutes for each of your 3 major topic headings.
So under each of the 3 major headings and 3 sub-headings write what you want to tell your audience to fit within the 15 minutes for each major headings.
For example, your three major headings will be sub-titles and will only take a few seconds to mention as you move to your sub-headings content.
Then your 3 sub-headings will have the actual content that you want to deliver to your audience. Time these to be about 4-5 minutes each (3 x 5=15 minutes).
3. Write the content of your sub-headings, then edit to fit on 3x5 or 4x6 cards as needed:
Once you have this organized, re-write them on your cards. You might have 1 card per 3 sub-headings if you only use key words that you will elaborate verbally.
Or you might need 3 cards, 1 for each sub-headings, if you write more information to guide your verbal delivery. Do what works best for you.
Personally, I usually write everything down that I will be saying, and highlight the key points I want to make sure not to miss, with a yellow highlighter; then I just glance at the overall content as I move from one sub-headings to the next. So I end up with 1 card for each of my 3 sub-headings.
Do not read from your card. Highlight the important words that will trigger your memory to speak to your audience.
Then practice your delivery beforehand as many times as you need to, timing the whole to fit within your 45 minutes (or whatever the case may be). If you are going to use transparencies or power-point, make sure to use them in your practice run also. You might need to trade a couple of minutes of your verbal content for the handling of the equipment.
When you do the real thing, simply follow your cards, moving each one to the back as you deliver your material. Don't focus only on the cards, use the cards to keep you on track. Look at your audience, scanning through every one from left to right, front to back. Don't stare in one area longer than in another, unless you are answering a specific person's question.
There are many good books on presentations, with samples. A good one is Leading Workshops, Seminars, and Training Sessions; by Helen Angus, Self-Counsel Press, which includes models of room arrangements and other technical information on equipment, etc.
Often our competition can be a good source of the latest examples of what's in at the time. Check out what the top companies are doing, and better it! For example financial institutions who give free seminars on their service offerings are a good place to get ideas on presentation skills, while getting some education on financial investment!
Give free seminars to friends, co-workers and family members to sharpen your presentation skills and public speaking. Tape yourself and listen or watch yourself back, making notes of habits you might want to omit or change, etc.
Always be prepared, you never know when you might be asked to do a presentation at work, at church or in a community group!/dmh
Diane M. Hoffmann is the founder of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications and the web site http://communication-verbal-nonverbal.com which is the home of her e-books "Improve Communication, Verbal and Nonverbal" and "Improve Communication, Organization and Training" as well as her 296-page printed book "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". You may reprint this article making sure to include this bio with no changes.
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