This presentation is about the art of public speaking. It will guide you through some basic principles and guidelines to help you pick up the art and to become better public speakers. Remember that any of these guidelines and principles will help you master the art only if you practice the skills of public speaking.
As a student, you will have opportunities to make some short presentations either in your class or at college. You are also expected to make a short presentation for a few minutes as a part of your practical examination. After college, you will be usually asked to participate in a group discussion, or will be asked to appear for an interview, before you are recruited. As a part of your job requirements, you may have to make in-house presentations or even full length academic lectures.
Overcoming fear of public speaking is the first step to master this art. You might be interested to know that the greatest of the speakers also are afraid. Public speaking frightens some people more than even death frightens them. Believe that fear CAN BE overcome and confidence CAN BE gained. Join a Jaycees, Toastmasters or Leo Club to accept opportunities to speak.
The four phases of Public Speaking are Plan, Prepare, Practice and Present. To plan your presentation, you not only need to know what you are going to talk about, but you should also thoroughly understand why you are making the presentation and whom you are going to speak to. Preparing includes researching your subject and gathering all available and relevant information. The importance of practising cannot be overemphasized. Making a well organized and successful presentation is the final stage.
Here are the six guidelines I would like to give you to help you make an effective presentation. 1. Be prepared. 2. Be organized. 3. Be clear. 4. Be vivid. 5. Be natural. 6. Be crisp. Let us now discuss each one of these guidelines in details.
Guideline One is to be prepared.
Preparing for a presentation includes knowing the purpose of your presentation, knowing your audience and knowing your subject. Ask yourself why, where, when, and for whom you are going to make the presentation about what. Knowing the answers to these questions will help you plan and make an effective presentation. Focus your goals by stating your objective: directly tell your audience what you want them to know, what you want them to do, and what outcomes you are expecting.
In order to convert hearers into listeners, you need to know why they should listen to you. You should know the value or worth or interest of what you are going to say. to inform (to explain an idea or process, share new information, or show how to do something) - want the audience to leave knowing more than beforehand to persuade – want to convince the audience to adopt a new position or belief, to change their minds to inspire – to move the audience to action to entertain is to please the audience
To make an effective presentation, it is always a good idea to know the variety in values, knowledge, communicative and intellectual capabilities of your audience. You should also know whether they are young or old, rich or poor, female or male, religious or less believing or non-believing, educated or illiterate etc. You should also know their expectations whether they are interested or not; want to be entertained or informed; can be persuaded or stubborn in their minds; expect a presentation with sophisticated visual aids or looking for less formal comments.
The success of your presentation depends on knowing the subject thoroughly. Once you are sure about what you wish to say, prepare an outline of the main ideas you would like to make and gather all relevant information to support your ideas. You should also know the occasion for your presentation to choose the norms for your presentation and to operate in an appropriate mode – formal or informal, humorous or serious, extemporaneous or highly practised. Remember this maxim: Proper Preparation Prevents Presentation Predicaments.
Our guideline 2 is to be organized.
Systematic organization of your presentation serves three important functions: It improves clarity of thought, increases effectiveness & credibility and makes the presentation easier to understand. Every good presentation has three main parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The main ideas in the body are usually organized either on time, space or logical sequence.
It is a good idea to open a presentation with a story, a question, an anecdote, an interesting fact, a brief sketch of a biography, some statistical detail, a proverb or a quotation. The purpose is to draw the attention of the audience to what is going to come. Remember that whatever idea you use to begin your presentation, it should be brief and relevant to the presentation. For instance, don’t narrate a joke just because it is interesting. In stead search and find a joke that highlights one of your main points.
Before you close the presentation, summarize the main points you have made. You may even remind your audience about the objective statement you made in your introduction and help them evaluate if the objectives have been attained. Leave the audience with a question or a challenge or a quotation to think about or to reinforce the main idea. Let not the audience say: “Our speaker doesn’t need an introduction, he needs a conclusion.”
The third guideline is to be clear.
Clarity comes from simplicity in thought and language. If your ideas are clear in your mind, the presentation automatically becomes clear. Use short, simple and familiar words, instead of the bombastic and high sounding ones. Your sentences should be short and simple in their structure to make your points clear. Give plenty of non-verbal clues, such as gestures and expressions to make your points further clear. All the main points you make should be simple and well connected. Each idea should naturally emerge from the previous. Use connecting words, milestone words and linkers to help the audience see the organization. Give necessary and appropriate examples.
The next guideline is to be vivid and vibrant. Make your presentation interesting and impressive by making it colorful and presenting it dramatically.
Presentations become vivid when you present them energetically and dramatically. Your body language should be supportive and positive. Help your audience visualize your ideas by making them concrete. Use audio-visual aids whenever necessary. However, never overdose your presentation with unnecessary and excessive animations which distract your audience’s attention till they are lost and miss the point you make. Similarly, excessive body language also distracts and sometimes even upsets the audience.
Modulate your voice and change the pace of your speech for better effect. Slowing down and speeding up have a telling effect on the presentation. Properly used pauses are immensely effective and sometimes convey more meaning than speech. Whenever possible and necessary, physical movement inside the hall also helps leave a greater impact on the audience. Your presentation should encourage your audience to participate by asking them rhetorical questions and questions to think over and answer. Who does not like humor, unless you are speaking at a memorial service? Humor makes your presentation energetic and impressive. A clean and relevant joke effectively narrated will relieve the tedium and brighten the presentation. The most important and powerful tool that you need to equip yourself with is a positive attitude. Your attitude decides whether your presentation is successful or not. There is hardly anything that cannot be accomplished with a positive attitude.
Your body language is the most effective way of communicating your ideas. Body language includes your voice modulation, your gestures and posture, your eye contact with all your audience, the expression on your face and most importantly the smile that wear on your face. If used effectively and appropriately, your body language conveys much more than your language. Poise during speech is essential to portray a positive image.
Use real objects, charts, pictures, video clippings, slideshows to support what you wish to say. Your audience retains what they see and listen much more longer than what they just hear. Well used visual aids leave a lasting impact on the audience. But be warned that each visual aid should be relevant to the presentation and properly introduced. Don’t use an aid because it is good, but only if it helps you make a point more convincingly and more effectively. A presentation without any aids is better than a presentation with irrelevant aids. Another note – when you are showing the aid to the audience, don’t face the screen or wall and forget the audience. Face them and draw their attention to what you want them to see.
Guideline five is to be natural with your presentation.
Speaking from the heart is speaking about what you personally know, believe in or experienced. Avoid reeling out cold, dry facts – humanize your speech – relate the facts to human experience, and if possible to your own experience. This will involve the audience and helps them understand better what you say. Use language appropriate to the occasion, to the audience, to the topic.
The last guideline is to be crisp and brief.
Never exceed the time allocated to you. It is impossible to hold the attention of your audience for long however good your presentation is. So the real art of public speaking is fitting your available time to the subject. Within the time available to you, go through the presentation as planned, and make any mid-course adjustments if needed.
It is better to be remembered for covering 5 or 6 points well than to leave the audience confused with 500 points. The three steps of a successful presentation are: take time to tell what you want to tell them, tell them and tell them what you have told them.
This is an old speaking adage: know your subject, know your audience and know when they have had enough.
Practice is the only golden key to your success. Perfection comes from practice and practice is doing something again and again. Like any other skill – swimming, dancing, cycling – public speaking also is a skill that can be mastered only by speaking in public again and again. Use mirror as your first audience. Stand out when you stand up.
Do not distract the audience with unnecessary movement, irritating prop words and irrelevant body language. Pacing in panic, standing cross-armed or standing hands-in-pockets, playing with coins or keys in your pockets, turning away from the audience and talking into a visual aid, gestures irrelevant to the message--all of these distract the audience from the speech and should be avoided.
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