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How to Deliver a Winning Presentation
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  • Introduction: Developing a solid oral presentation that delivers the message successfully is like walking a tight rope. One slip and the presentation can become disastrous! As an example consider George W. Bush’s statement on the topic of terrorism during his speech to high-ranking Pentagon officials on August 5, 2004, “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we” (BBC, 2004). President Bush was eloquent and firm in this statement, yet his words did not effectively deliver the message he was intending to relay. Successfully delivering an effective oral presentation requires careful planning, practice and an adept ability to stay focused on the message. Taking the right steps in preparation ensure that the speaker is able to walk the fine line between being effective or losing the audience. An effective speaker will: develop a strategy that focuses on the audience, adapts the message to the audience, delivers the message in an organized manner, uses effective body language and ensures the tone of the message is targeted at the audience
  • The speakers main objective is to deliver a clear message the audience can understand. Whether, the presentation takes the form of a monolog or discussion the information should be organized in a logical order suited for the audience. The logical order of a presentation consists of a introduction, body, and conclusion. Information within the presentation should follow in chronological order and emphasize the key points. The introduction will set the tone for the message, while the body contains the necessary information to backup statements made in the key points. The conclusion will successfully emphasize the key points and lead to an opening for questions or open discussion on the topics presented.
  • A monologue presentation, the speaker plans the presentation in advance and delivers it without deviation. In a guided discussion, the speaker presents the questions or issues that both speaker and audience have agreed on in advance. Rather than functioning as an expert with all the answers, the speaker serves as a facilitator to help the audience tap its own knowledge. An interactive presentation is a conversation using questions to determine needs, probe objections, and gain provisional and then final commitment to the objective (Locker & Kienzler, 2007).
  • The speaker has four types of openers to choose from; startling statement, narration, question, or quotation. A startling statement is basically a fact that the audience is familiar with and can be dramatic, as the word implies its intent is to “grab” the attention of the audience so they are focused on the content. A narration can serve as a good ice breaker it should be something the audience is familiar with or can relate to, usually a short story whether personal or humorous will get the audience interested in the subject matter (Locker & Krenzler, 2008). Another way to begin a presentation is simply by asking direct or rhetorical questions. Some speakers may begin by asking for a show of hands in response to a question usually to prove a point, or bring to light surprising facts, this technique will help engage the audience. A quotation can be a published statement of someone who may be considered an expert on the subject matter or something profound that generates comments and ideas from the audience.
  • Adapting Ideas: Make ideas relevant to the audience by linking whatto say to their experiences and interests. The best strategy is to show how the topic affects the audience directly or at least link the topic to an everyday experience.It is okay to use notes to refer to the presentation from time to time, but the opening and closing statement of the presentation should be memorized. Closing: Any of the above bullet points can be used to close the presentation. Whatever the choices are – make the statement strong like the opener.
  • The emphasis is to create interest in the audience by accenting the key point(s). Memorizing will make the presenter sound more natural and effective. The opening statement should be meant to build and establish a rapport with the audience so that they want to hear more.
  • The next part of the presentation is the body. The body makes up the content and is usually presented in a order that the audience can easily follow. The speaker may choose to divide the content into sections so the audience can keep pace with the presentation, it is also good to pause between main points to ask or answer questions, summarize the main point, or explain the next point. Visual aids that are relevant and concrete can help the speaker get the message across. The end of the presentation should be summarized in a few lines by the speaker the audience should have a good understanding of the point of the message and what the audience should take away form the information presented. Lastly, the speaker should encourage questions it shows the audience is interested in what is being said and can also make the presentation more interactive. If the speaker asks for questions they can appear more as an authority on the content and should knowledgeable about the content however, if a discussion ensues there’s less pressure put on the speaker to supply all the answers, the audience may have more information to add on the topic (The University of Hong Kong, n.d.).
  • Visuals can help the audience follow along and help the presenter keep his or her place. Visuals can serve as an outline in place of notes. The visuals should highlight the main points not give out every detail.
  • Multimedia is one of the fastest ways to build interest with the audience. This is a combination of text, images, animation, video, and sound. Whenever using imagery of always give credit to the source. Multimedia should be selected to associate with the topic being discussed so that there is an even flow and not fit in some odd place in the talk.
  • Before the presentation, write out possible questions or challenges that may be raised to the points talked about. Be prepared for dealing with controversial issues or objections and save a point for the question period in that area. Visuals are a good way to answer questions by linking the answers to the points made in the presentation. Explain in the beginning how Q&A is going to be addressed. Repeat the question asked, rephrase it if needed (as in the case with a biased or hostile question) and be honest if the presenter doesn’t know the answer. Have a colleague or expert to join in answering hard pressed questions or simply tell them you will get back to them. A couple of minutes spent summarizing the main points will restate the close and round out the presentation.
  • (1st dash) Body language is non-verbal signals such as crossing arms, tapping a pen…Anything your body does that could send a message without a word being spoken, or send a message that differs from the one that you are speaking.(2nd dash) Different cultures may read body language differently. Examples are: Japanese culture values the ability to sit quietly, Americans tend to fidget. Swedes show they are actively listening with crossed arms, Americans see this as a sign of boredom, annoyance, or dissagreement(Locker & Kienzler, 2007). (3rd Dash) Body language can help engage the audience, or turn them off. When the speaker is in tune with his or her body language it can assist in projecting the message that was intended to be projected. It can also help lighten the atmosphere by making the audience feel welcomed and excited about being there.
  • (1st bullet) Every culture has established what certain gestures and body positions mean. While crossing your legs while sitting may be completely natural in the United States, in the Middle East this is considered highly offensive because it exposes the bottom of ones feet. Simple gestures such as direct eye contact, the crossing of arms, or even standing to close are gestures that may be fine in one culture, but offensive in the next. Knowing your audience will help establish how you should carry yourself while presenting in order to best engage the audience (Locker & Kienzler, 2008). (2nd bullet) Your body language is your first impression. Before you ever have a chance to speak, how you carry yourself, position yourself, your facial expressions, and even your clothing has already started speaking about who you are and what you are about. As you are speaking, body gestures build value and importance in what is being said by the speaker. Body language is responsible for showing passion and importance by combining a bold movement, such as a smooth and confident hand slash, with slowed speech in order to make a point stand out to the audience.(3rd bullet) Confidence is shown when a speaker can stand in front of the audience and speak as naturally about the presented topic as he could about the current weather. By exhibiting body language such as walking away from the lectern, looking at the audience more then your notes, and showing excitement for what is being presented, the speaker shows the audience that he or she is confident and passionate about being there. When passion and confidence are seen by the audience it builds credibility in the presenters favor, which not only makes the transfer of information easier, but also makes sitting through a presentation enjoyable as well.(4th bullet) Everybody has had at least one experience with sitting through a dull speech or presentation. Maybe it was a monotone speaker. Maybe it was a boring topic that the speaker really didn’t care to much about. And maybe it was just a lack of skill by the speaker to keep us involved. While not all topics are exciting, a skilled presenter will keep us engaged enough to keep our focus off the wall clock. The use of body gestures, from animated hand gestures, to walking out from behind the podium, help keep the audience focused on the speaker and what he or she is saying. Once the audience loses their ability to focus visually, other distractions take over and the message is lost.
  • (1st bullet) Remain aware of what your body is saying. Often our body says one thing while our words say another (“While you're talking, what is your body saying?,” 2003). If presenting a message of empathy a smile might send a message that speaks louder then your verbal message. Proper gestures and body language will tell the audience that you are the subject matter expert and are in command of this presentation.(1st dash) Energy is contagious. A speaker that is excited to talk to the audience helps the audience feel excited about listening. If you have the opportunity, greet your audience as they arrive. A smile, handshake, bow, eye contact, or whatever is appropriate at that time, is a great way to engage your audience before the presentation even begins. This first impression will last throughout the presentation.(2nd dash) Hand gestures will show the audience that you are confident and comfortable with the subject matter. They will help you build credibility with the audience. They will also help you express your emotions and emphasis on certain parts of the presentation. Also, by animating your presentation with hand gestures the audience will be more apt to focus on you visually which will help them remain engaged in your message.(3rd Dash) The lectern is there to hold your notes and a microphone. By leaning on the lectern you show the audience that you are not fully engaged in what you are presenting, so why should they be? If possible, step to the side of the lectern and speak to your audience while in full view. Take a few steps away from the podium and speak directly to your audience. Do not continuously walk around as that might become distracting. By moving away from your notes it sends the non-verbal message that you know what you are talking about (“Body language for great public speaking ,” 2008). If moving away from the lectern is not an option then remain erect, and speak boldly from behind it. Look at your audience as often as possible, and speak directly to them, not to your notes.
  • Closing: Any of the above bullet points can be used to close the presentation. Whatever the choices are – make the statement strong like the opener. Use shorter, simpler words. Use repetition, pronouns and less varied vocabulary.
  • Giving an oral presentation demands strong organizational skills, an ability to effectively evaluate the audience and a sound understanding of effective visuals. Information must be built around the message intent, the audience’s wants, needs and expectations. An effective speaker will present confidence when delivering the message by using the right body language and will take the time to address audience questions. Delivering anything less than a stellar performance is a waste of valuable time and can damage the credibility of the message.


  • 1. How to Deliver A Winning Presentation
    By J. Elle Kano
    June 10, 2011
  • 2. Walking a Fine Line…
  • Structuring Oral Presentations
    Sets the tone
    Organized Logically
    • Emphasizes Key Points
  • Planning Effective Presentations
    Choosing the right presentation
    Steve Jobs, Apple Inc. Keynote
  • 4. Introduction Techniques
    Startling statement
    Grabs attention
    Thought provoking
    Story or anecdote
    Relevant to the topic
    Direct or rhetorical questioning
    Statement from authority
    Profound statement
  • 5. Determine Audience Type
    Adapt ideas to the audience
    Memorize the opening & closing statement
  • 6. Gain Audience Interest
    • Establish rapport
    • 7. Accent key points
  • The Body and Conclusion
    Outline & Link Information
    Use Examples
    Provide Visuals
    Summarize Information
    Express gratitude
    Invite questions or discussion
  • 8. Visual Aids
    Helps audience follow along
    Highlight main points, not detail
    Elaborate as you talk
  • 9. Multimedia
    Add video clips and sound
    Screen-capture program
    Animated banner ads using Flash
    Turn printed brochures into website
    Office Space, 1999
    Donald Applecore, 1952
  • 10. Questions and Answers
    Write out possible questions
    Use visuals to answer
    Explain how Q & A is handled
    Rephrase hostile or biased questions
    Two minute summary of main point
  • 11. Body Language and Oral Communication
    What is Body Language?
    Non-verbal signals and gestures
    Eye contact
    Personal space
    Body position
    Cultural differences
    Body language speaks loudly
    The Godfather, 1972
  • 12. Body-Language In Oral Presentations
    Body language comes first
    Spoken in every culture
    Learn about your audience
    Sets the tone
    Emphasizes speaker points
    Establishes credibility with audience
    Keeps audience interested
    Marcel Marceau, 1963
  • 13. Importance of Body Language
    Must support the presenter and the message
    Be alive and energetic
    Use Hand Gestures
    Avoid too many gestures
    Do not hide behind the lectern
  • 14. Wrapping up the Presentation
    • Closing – restate main point
    Refer to opener
    Frame the presentation
    End with a positive picture
    Photo above:  Steve Jobs wrapping up his presentation on March 2, 2011
  • 15. In the End…the Audience is the Judge
    Body Language
  • 16. References
    Anatomy of a Scene. (2009) The Godfather, 1972. Image Retrieved at youoffendmeyouoffendmyfamily.com
    Belludi, N. (Nov. 2007). Etiquette: Protocol of Introducing People. Right Attitudes: Ideas for Impact. Retrieved from www.rightattitudes.com/2007/11/
    Body language for great public speaking . (2008). Fearless-PublicSpeaking.com, (), . Retrieved from http://www.fearless-publicspeaking.com/body-language.html
    British Broadcasting Corporation, (2004). President gaffes in terror speech. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3541706.stm
    Hannah, J. (1952). Donald Applecore. Walt Disney Pictures. Animated Film.
    Image DJ. (2006). The Corporate Culture. Image retrieved from http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0S020m0yVhLoRUBr6KjzbkF/SIG=12rdsrftk/EXP=1264196404/**http%3A//www.imagedj.com/product_info.php%3FcPath=2%26products_id=2901019
    Judge, M. (1999). Office Space. 20th Century Fox Film Corporation. Film.
  • 17. References
    Levenstein J., Pike, et. al. (Feb. 2008). Grand Gestures. Salt in Wound an artistic collective. Image retrieved at www.saltinwound.com/2008/02/grand-gestures.html
    Locker, K., & Kienzler, D. (2008). Business and administrative communications (8th ed.).  New York: McGraw-Hill. 
    Mandelmann, E. (1963). Marcel Marceau Portrait. Image retrieved from www.erlingmandelmann.ch/.../061_marceau.php
    Pappas & Associates, P.A. (2010). Images Retrieved at http://www.pappastax.com/
    The University of Hong Kong. (n.d.). English for Professional Communication. Retrieved from http://ec.hku.hk/epc/presentation/default.htm
    Storz, C. (2002). Institute of national telecommunications. Retrieved from http://people.engr.ncsu.edu/txie/publications/oralpresentationskills.pdf
    While you're talking, what is your body saying?. (2003). The Total Communicator, 1(issue 2), 1. Retrieved from http://totalcommunicator.com/body_article.html