THE WHY, WHO, WHERE, WHAT & HOW OF DELIVERING A PRESENTATION
The first step for a solid presentation is to prepare it thoroughly and rehearse it beforehand. You need to define the purpose of your presentation and how to plan for your strategy. The strategy should cater for ways to generate interest, to explain, to persuade and to entertain. Your message should be clear, informative and brief. To sum up, you need to think about the WHY, WHO, WHERE, WHAT and HOW of your presentation.
WHY / WHO / WHERE
We need to know the purpose of our presentation and consider the type of audience we will be addressing. The audience will define the best register (formal, neutral or informal), and their size will tell us what equipment should be used. A flip-chart or a whiteboard will be fine for small audiences, but would do very poorly if the audience is large. In this case, transparencies or a projector will be a much better choice.
Most presentations nowadays are supported by ICT technology and the star, undoubtedly, is the PowerPoint application. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to overuse and/or misuse it. Presentations should make use of ppt as visual support to emphasize main points, or to illustrate some of the content, but must not distract the audience from what the presenter is saying.
Besides, it is advisable to visit the venue (or make enquiries about it if no chance to visit it beforehand) so that we find out about the type of room, seating arragement and the equipment available. You should arrive at the place in time to check that everything works fine regarding the equipment so as to avoid unwanted situations.
WHAT / HOW
Next step is to structure the content of your presentation, so that you don’t digress when delivering it. First of all, you should welcome your audience and introduce yourself as well as say who you work for and your title in the company. Don’t forget to give a brief background of your company focusing on its assets. If you are freelance give a short account of your professional experience, unless this has been done before you start as a way to introduce you and your talk. Then, say why you are there and how long the presentation will take. You can mention how you will deal with questions & answers either at this point or once you have outlined the content of your talk. It is important to outline the main points; the use of sequencers (Firstly, secondly…., next….Finally) will make your audience draw a mental picture of how the content will be developed, and they will also grasp the presentation as a whole.
After this introduction you will start with the main body of your presentation, and the how will definitely play a key role in this part. In other words, how you manage the visual and auditory aspects will keep your audience engaged in what you are saying. Remember the sweet and simple rule: tell the people what you want to say, say it and, then, remind them of what you have just said. A summary at the end and a conclusion will round it up.
The auditory and visual aspects refer to the use of your voice and your non-verbal communication. The way you talk, the pace of your voice, should be natural; if you speak too fast people may not understand you, whereas if you speak too slowly, people may get bored. Vary the tone of your voice to retain the audience’s attention. As English is not your mother tongue, make sure where the stress of long or technical words is. It is advisable that you practise saying these words when rehearsing. Pausing is an effective technique when used correctly. If you pause in the wrong place it sounds like hesitation, whereas a pause in the right place creates expectation in the audience.
All this, of course, needs to be done in a natural way and matching your body language. Don’t stand still or fiddle while speaking as it’s a clear sign of shyness or nervousness. Keep your shoulders straight and avoid crossing your legs or arms. Use your hands to help you emphasize your points and avoid holding something in them as it would draw your audience’s attention to the object. Never turn your back to your audience when speaking and be careful not to stand in front of the visual aids. Keep eye-contact with the audience in all moments. Move around so as to highlight what you are saying not to distract them.
Always address your audience and involve them in what you are saying; be empathetic and make them feel comfortable by being yourself comfortable. Your non-verbal communication gives away whether you feel confident or not.
That’s why it is important to rehearse your presentation in front of a colleague so that you can be given feedback on the do's and don’t's as well as make you feel more confident when the actual day comes.
When dealing with questions set the time allowance and try to satisfy their enquiries, but never misinform. If you can’t provide an adequate answer tell them that you will look into it and get back to them. Don’t let one or two people monopolize this time, and encourage others to participate.
Summarizing what has been said:
· outline the structure of your presentation taking down notes on the key points to follow and to remember;
· take care of both the content and the delivery;
· prepare your visual aids thoroughly and don’t leave things to the last minute;
· act naturally and make the audience feel at ease and interested in what you’re saying.
And last but not least, smile :O), it simply makes everything much easier.
POWEL, M. (2002) Presenting in English: how to give successful presentations. Thomson Heinle.
MASCULL, B. (2002) Business Vocabulary in Use - Intermediate. Cambridge University Press.
Unit 05. Presentations. English PR. Inglés Práctico para profesionales. Telefónica - El País.