How to Present Like a Pro – Part II


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Presenting like a Pro requires two important skills: being able to pay close attention to your audience both before and during the presentation, and being able to take care of yourself as a presenter. This eBook explains how you can improve on these two different, but equally important, skills.

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  • Make eye contact with people in the room who seem friendly and receptive at the beginning of your presentation; it will help give you confidence. Eye contact also gives you instant feedback as to whether listeners are connecting to what you are saying.
  • Use an overhead projector whenever you can. Use a presentation remote control to present any slideware so they can see the content and easily relate to you at the same time.
  • When you present sitting down, match participants’ postures to make them feel relaxed and open to what you are saying. If they have both hands in their laps, then do the same; if they have one hand on the table and one hand on their hips, do the same. Studies show that this kind of “posture mapping” results in more persuasive communication and agreement.
  • The “OK” sign (thumb touching forefinger) is often used in the United States as a sign of acceptance, but in Russia and Turkey, it can represent a real insult. If you present an open palm with fingers extended, a Greek would be highly insulted, and giving the thumbs-up sign to an Iraqi is the foulest of insults. In some cultures nodding is interpreted as negation rather than agreement, and in India agreement is communicated with a cross between nodding and shaking the head—a head bobble.
  • Be careful not to overuse changes in pitch. When you over-emphasize changes in pitch in an effort to come across as enthusiastic and dynamic, it communicates insincerity. Tap into your natural enthusiasm. Treat changes in pitch like you would italic words on paper: be selective and choose important words that you want participants to hear differently.
  • Use a higher volume at the beginning of your presentation to prevent your voice from cracking. A higher volume at the beginning denotes confidence and expertise, and will demand the attention of the participants. Once you have their attention and they are engaged, you can take opportunities to alter the volume to add interest and subtlety to your content.
  • Try exaggerating your lip movement to reduce mumbling. Practice articulating tongue twisters and extending and exaggerating vowel sounds. Focus on the tongue twisters that you find difficult.
  • If the inflection in your voice goes down at the end of a sentence, you will sound authoritative; if the inflection goes up, you will sound as if you are asking a question or wanting reassurance.
  • Emphasis highlights importance and adds interest and variety to your presentation. Imagine the impact of these sentences.“He didn’t close the sale that day”“He didn’t close the sale that day”“He didn’t close the sale that day”“He didn’t close the sale that day”
  • The only times that you may want to purposely slow down are when you want to add a bit more weight to a statement, or when you express something that is highly complex and the participants may need additional processing time. Slowing down also works when you address non-native speakers, who appreciate a bit of extra time to mentally translate what you said into their own language.
  • Prepare and practice together beforehand. Know who presents which topics at which point, and stick to a strict timeline so both of you have enough time to present what you prepared. Practice transitioning control from one person to the other. Create a smooth segue between different parts of the presentation. Know the main points your co-presenter will be making so you can be supportive during their part.
  • As an interviewer, you should:Create an atmosphere that is relaxed and conducive to discussion.Maintain a good pace and stay on schedule.Clarify and reiterate any key points. Ask for examples or stories to bring the content to life. Ensure that the conversation is easy to relate to—not too esoteric or abstract.
  • Plan and practice your telephone presentation as you would for a face-to-face audience. Structure and flow are even more important on the phone when you have no visuals.
  • As you can’t see your audience, it’s much harder to know whether they are engaged or distracted, so make sure you develop a dialogue rather than deliver a speech. Ask listeners pertinent questions regularly. Initiate a conversation. It will feel more comfortable to you, more valuable for them, and you’ll have an idea of how they feel about the content.
  • Whenever possible, use a landline phone to project a clear and distinct voice. If you use a headset, make sure it is as clear as using the handset. Avoid being on speakerphone or on a mobile phone. Don’t distract listeners with static, low volume, or background noise.
  • Here are some other recommendations for taking care of your voice:Maintain a good standing posture to improve airflow and effective breathing.Rest your voice before and after speaking.Don’t smoke, and avoid second-hand smoke.Avoid prolonged speaking if you have a cold or a sore throat.Reduce the number of times you clear your throat by swallowing instead.Use a microphone when you have a large group rather than raising your voice to a shout.
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