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ALL THE GREAT SPEAKERSWERE BAD SPEAKERS AT FIRST. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
GENIUS IS 1 % TALENT, AND 99 % PERCENT HARD WORK. — Albert Einstein
YOUR TIME IS LIMITED, SO DON’TWASTE IT LIVING SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE. DON’T BE TRAPPED BY DOGMA — WHICH IS LIVING WITH THE RESULTS OF OTHER PEOPLE’S THINKING.YOU’VE GOT TO FIND WHAT YOU LOVE. — Steve Jobs
Look,that guy didn’t take our Presentation Skills course. Feel sorry for him.
PRESENTING is a hard task. Let’s imagine two very common cases.You’re sitting in the audience. There’s somebody who is going to present somethingtoday. People are talking to each other, texting messages.It’s morning, and you’re still sleepy.The presenter comes on stage, and he/she is visibly nervous.The presenter starts uttering his/her words, looks down on the notes,and you’re thinking, ‘Oh no. Get me out of here.’It’s not like you cannot understand what the presenter is talking about,and not like you don’t know anything about this topic.It’s just you don’t know why you’re there, why you had to come.The presenter may is telling some facts and has a point,and he’s constantly switching the slides with data, pictures, lists... but honestly,it’s just boring. You’re just waiting for him/her to say,‘That concludes what I was going to say,’ to clap politelyand never care about it anymore.
NOW, case 2:You are given this task — tell other people something. What exactly should you say?Will they be interested? You’ve only done it a couple times before!You write your text, re-write it several times,still feeling it’s not logical and you’re getting lost in it yourself.On the evening before presenting, you rehearse late into the night,but ﬁve minutes before presenting you’re sitting thereand feeling your mind is turning off.Time to go. You get on the stage, see how many people are watching at you.Not daring to look them in the eye, you’re uttering your ﬁrst words, but what’s next?Words desert you. Damn, they can see my hands shaking, better hold the pen...God, why aren’t they laughing at this joke? I thought it would be funny.... Presentation over, and you’re so happy with this fact you can’t hearif there is applause or not. You won’t ask people how they think it went,and in case of they mention any ﬂaws, you’ll ﬁnd a reasonable excuse.‘You know, I’m not a presenter really, it’s not my job.’
FAMILIAR? We’ve all been there.And we’ve also heard about the presenterswhose speeches are interesting and captivating.If we’re lucky enough, we even attended such presentations.And you thought, ‘Why cannot I be like this? This guy is a natural presenter.’
FAMILIAR? We’ve all been there.And we’ve also heard about the presenterswhose speeches are interesting and captivating.If we’re lucky enough, we even attended such presentations.And you thought, ‘Why cannot I be like this? This guy is a natural presenter.’YOU can.But there is no such thing — natural presenter.What seems natural and improvisational, is in fact hard work.If you want to become a better and more interesting presenter,you will become one. But only if you work for it.
FAMILIAR? We’ve all been there.And we’ve also heard about the presenterswhose speeches are interesting and captivating.If we’re lucky enough, we even attended such presentations.And you thought, ‘Why cannot I be like this? This guy is a natural presenter.’YOU can.But there is no such thing — natural presenter.What seems natural and improvisational, is in fact hard work.If you want to become a better and more interesting presenter,you will become one. But only if you work for it.AND we are glad to help you with this.We actually don’t want to teach youhow to make a nice slideshow (overloaded with data)and then read it out in front of people (until they fall asleep).We want to teach how to make good presentationsand how to become a great presenter.
DURING the next 8 units,we’ll talk about the main steps of preparing and delivering a presentation:Preparation — how to prepare for a presentation.Getting Started — how to open it.Voice Techniques — how to use your voice effectively.Body Language — how to make your gestures support your words.Key Language — how to organize the main body of the talk.Closing — how to end your speech effectively.Dealing with Questions — how to... well, you get it, how to deal with questions.
WE will give some advice, tell a lot of useful phrases.Exercises help to remember the knowledge,and video tasks let you examine other presenters.After the units you’ll ﬁnd a big list of various links to further reading.We’ve also chosen best presentation examples for you.
SO, we’re providing you with a lot of information.Now it’s your turn.We’d be happy to do all the work for you,but we can’t. Sorry.And actually, we think that you’ll get interested.
LET’S get down to business.What makes a good presentation?
MANY things contribute to the success of a presentation —interesting content, a clear structure, a good sense of timing,imaginative use of visual aids, connection with the audience,the ability to make people laugh... and think.But above all and beyond all there is enthusiasm. Without exception,all good presenters have one thing in common, enthusiasm,both for their subject and for the business of presenting it.And enthusiasm is infectious. Audiences can’t help but be affected by it.And the best public speakers always make what they say soundas if it really matters.They know that if it matters to them, it will matter to their audience.
WHEN preparing for a presentation, what should you consider ﬁrst?
FIRST comes establishing the aim of your presentation.
REMEMBER: this comes ﬁrst. What is it for?You need to understand what you want your audienceto do after your presentation.After that, you will be able to understand what you needto tell them in order for them to do that.But remember also that the information that you are interestedin and the information that your audience needs to know to achieve your aim —these are two different things.If you just want to ‘talk about it’, then you are likely to talk too much.
WRITE down in a sentence of no more than 15 words what you want theaudience to do. Not what you want to do to them, but what you want them to do.Your aim is your audience doing something.It cannot be knowing or learning something. Mere knowledge never solvedanything. We are living in the times of information, and there is so much uselessinformation around that your information will be just as useless.Knowledge only helps us to do things.Thus, read, speak, vote, create, try all are action words. But understand, consider,agree — these are not.What if you are asked to give a presentation just to ‘give new information’?Well, what is that information for? Why should you give it, in order to do what?Answering these question will help your establish a real, action aim.
IMPORTANT thing: your aim should be something that your audience is both ableand willing to do. If you want them to do something but clearly understandthat they won’t — well, it’s called a waste of time, and talking for the sakeof talking. Imagine a presenter trying to persuade top managers stop using carsand use subway instead.Another important thing: your aim should provide the members of the audiencewith a personal advantage. Not only an abstract general beneﬁt, but somethingspeciﬁc for them too. This is a very important truth: people make good thingsnot because they’re good things, but because there’s something good in itfor them, too.
ONCE the aim is established, you know what you will emphasizein the conclusion part of your speech, what your core message is.Based on that, you will know what information you need to provideto convince your audience into that message — and that will be the foundationof the main body of your talk.And after ﬁguring out the main body, you will be able to think about interestingways to introduce the topic — and that will become your introduction.That’s the order: conclusion, main body and introduction, and not vice versa.
AFTER establishing your aimcomes understanding who your audience is.
MANY think that ‘Who is your audience?’ is an abstract question,that it has no practical use. That’s not true. Actually, it tells you a lotof very particular things that will help you adjust your languageto them and make a great presentation.So, who is your audience? Who are those people and how can you describe them? Howmany people will be there — 5, or 15, or 50?Do they know you already or not? If not, that means you need to establisha contact with them from scratch.If they do, how often do you communicate? The more they know you, the less effortyou should try on establishing the connection.
WILL there be bosses or managers? Who are the decision makers in this group?Those who will make the ﬁnal decision about the aim of your presentation, theyare your target audience. It’s them you have to convince ﬁrst.By the way, no matter who they are, treat them as equals. Never talk down, orup, to them.Should you rather be formal and use formal phrases, or should you rather be informal,or both? The last is the most common, of course.What age are they? Are there young people?Are there housewives? Are there single men? etc.What are their political views?What is their lifestyle?Do they go to work by bus, or by car? Do they drink coffee, do they smoke, do theywatch TV? Do they have a taste in art? Do they like walking or visiting places? What istheir style in clothes?
ARE the members of the audience new-comers, or professionals?Do they know your topic better than you, or worse?Do they need the knowledge about your topic in their lives or not?The better you get to know your audience,the better you can adjust your speech to them.Because — and let us repeat — you don’t need to talk about something for someminutes in front of some people. You need to convince those particular people inone particular thing that you want them to do. Focus on that.
STEREOTYPES should be dealt with carefully, but use them.For example, people from IT department are usually logical, skeptical and rational.Personnel managers and secretaries are usually sociable.Accountants are slow at making decisions.Top managers think big and like to see the proﬁt and the perspective.Again, people from IT department barely care about the company’s proﬁt.People from southern countries are usually sociable and emotional,people from northern countries — usually more withdrawn and independent.It’s not always true, but that’s true in general. Consider that.
ONCE you realize who your audience is, you may realize your aim is not good.As we said earlier, your aim is something your audience should be ableand be willing to do. If they cannot or won’t want to —well, you got a bad aim, correct it. For example, you gather some IT people and in your company and some secretaries and tell them that the proﬁts are going down and the crisis is possible. It makes no sense, right? They will tell you, ‘So? What am I supposed to do? What I do is making your Internet work / plan my boss’s schedule.’ Or you come to a Moscow company and tell them about environment, and pollution, and try to convince them into using bikes instead of cars/subway. You know what they will tell you. ‘We’re sorry, when was the last time you got on a bike and made your way to work in Moscow? Have you seen Moscow streets?’ And whatever you think of these people, they’re right.
OR you tell people about unfair laws, or corruption. ‘So now what? What can we do?’ Why should we care?’ Of course, they can do something about it, we all can, but most probably — well, you won’t get enough time to convince them to do those little steps with no instant proﬁt.Giving the members of the audience a personal proﬁt — it is very important,and let us repeat again: people make good things not because they’re good things, butbecause there’s something good in it for them, too. Explain the general proﬁt(i.e. proﬁt for the department, the company, the country, our world),and explain the personal proﬁt(i.e. what good will it bring to each of the member of the audience).So, remember:Don’t expect too much from the people.And don’t expect too much from yourself — your time and ability are limited.Establish particular and realistic aims.
WE presume you already have enough information for your presentation.Check if there are some new facts, if the old facts didn’t become outdatedor are mistakes. You need to collect information that will be enoughto convince your audience in your aim.Important point: most probably you know on this topic much morethan your audience. Otherwise you wouldn’t be chosen to make this presentation.But this means that you know much more than your audience needs to know.They just don’t need to know all the details and understand all the terms.That’s why you need to reject unnecessary information.What is necessary? That is, enough for your aim.Cut everything else. How to check yourself?Ask other people: ‘If I told you about this topic, would that and that be interesting toyou? No? Then what would be interesting? Will it be enough if I just mention this orshould I explain more?’Practice on your friends, co-workers etc. Gather their opinions.
ONCE you have collected your information, organize it.
THE structure of your information must be clear and transparent, so do it well.But no, no, don’t start writing the text. The best way to start working on it isto write every idea you have on a single piece of paper. Then put all piecesbefore you on the table and start organizing.What is the logical order of telling these things? What if I start with telling this,and then I tell that, and come to that? Maybe vice versa?
THERE are different ways of telling information logically.There is linear approach — you tell about something from beginning to end.For example, chronologically (from past and present to future). Another example,problem — solution logic (you tell a problem, describe it, propose the solution andits results).Parallel approach means that you state the action and name several reasonsfor this action, and then restate the action again. The reasons are independentfrom each other. If your audience is friendly to you and your message,tell the strongest point ﬁrst; otherwise, tell it last.Deductive approach lets you go from particular to general, from what is familiar toyour public to something new yet, which is your message. This approach works goodon hostile audiences. If it’s hostile, pay special attention to the clear logic.
THIS way structure of your information will become more transparent.It’s recommended to have maximum three main points in your talk.The main points have subdivisions —experts say, up to six subdivisions for each main points. Not six, but up to six.These ideas, structured into main points and sub-points — this is your talk.Prepare little cards and write your points on them. That’s it.Never write your full text. It will only limit you — you will rehearse it,try to same the same as in written paper, forget the phrases, look for themin the text, but you’ll never actually remember the whole text.And if you somehow do — you will sound like a robot,and you need to sound natural. So, never write the full text.
NOW, let’s say a couple of words about structuring the whole presentation.Basically, the structure is very simple and looks like this:
NOW, let’s say a couple of words about structuring the whole presentation.Basically, the structure is very simple and looks like this: 1. Tell the audience what you are going to say! = Introduction 2. Say it! = Main part 3. Tell them what you said! = Conclusion
LET’S add a couple more thoughts into this: 1. Tell the audience what you are going to say! = Introduction + Intrigue them, make them want to listen to you 2. Say it! = Main part + Prove that what you’re saying is right 3. Tell them what you said! = Conclusion + Inspire them and make them remember what you said
AND then you can work on the rest.We’ll tell you about it in the following units:key language, visuals, how to use your voice and your body language effectively, etc.
AND one more thingBe yourself. Develop your own style of presenting.Learn from the great public speakers, but don’t copy them.Be comfortable with your own preferences and abilities.If something works for somebody else, that doesn’t mean it has to work for you.All the great speakers have something unique in them, and they couldnever develop this uniqueness if they sticked to other public speakers.
KEY POINTS Be enthusiastic about what you do. First, establish your aim. Second, understand who your audience is.Third, gather your information and cut all unnecessary. Fourth, organize the information to ﬁgure out your main points. Fifth, never write the full text.
KEY POINTS ... and above all:Develop, but be yourself.