Principles of Effective Presentations
Every time you stand in front of a group, you must achieve two basic goals. First, you need to communicate a message. And second, you need to communicate your personality — who you are as a professional and an individual. If “the medium is the message,” your personality is the window through which the message must travel to be received, understood and acted upon by the audience. You convey your message and your personality every day of your life in relaxed conversation. And relaxed conversation is, therefore, your best possible communication style. By understanding the following principles, you can sharpen the skills youʼve acquired one-on-one and transfer those skills to group presentations, thereby increasing your effectiveness in both. 1. YOUR BEST STYLE IS RELAXED CONVERSATION 2. BE YOURSELF 3. RELAXED CONVERSATION IS TWO-WAY 4. RELAXED CONVERSATION IS RECEIVER-DRIVEN 5. LESS IS MORE 6. PEOPLE CAN LISTEN OR THINK 7. PEOPLE WON'T REMEMBER WHAT YOU SAY 8. BE CONVERSATIONAL IN YOUR DELIVERY 9. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK 10. SILENCE IS ESSENTIAL
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PRINCIPLE #1 YOUR BEST STYLE IS RELAXED
Every day of your life, you convey your messages and your personality while engaged in conversation. You should therefore emulate conversation in your presentations. Youʼre not there to "download" information. You are there to create understanding that is based on a two-way exchange, and to facilitate an environment in which people can apply what you tell them to their personal or professional life. If you see a puzzled expression, donʼt wait for them to ask a question. Handle it the same way you would in a conversation. Ask them if there is something you can explain more effectively. Allow questions throughout your presentations. But be brief with your answers. Questions are an opportunity to create milestones of mutual understanding. But remember, you pass milestones. You donʼt camp at them.
But worry less about how you "present" yourself, than how you communicate with the members of the group. Your body language must be natural. And what is natural for you is probably not natural for someone else, or vice-versa, which is why we hesitate in setting rules for gestures you should use or the body language you should attempt to convey. To understand this, think of the gestures you make when you are enthusiastically explaining a concept to a friend over the telephone. Who are these gestures for? The person on the other end? Understand that these gestures are part of who you are as an individual. Bring them to your presentations and let them happen naturally.
PRINCIPLE #3 RELAXED CONVERSATION IS TWOWAY
To be effective, relaxed conversation must be two-way. Indeed, by deﬁnition, all communication must be two-way. Even if one person does most of the talking in a conversation, he or she is looking for the nods, listening for the "uh-huhs," and stopping to answer questions. The sender quickly recognizes that a blank look means the receiver is not listening. He or she will respond by changing tactics -- pausing to let the listener catch up or asking if there is a question. Your presentations, like your conversations, must be two-way. If you treat people with respect, and create a two-way process in which their questions are answered clearly and concisely, you stand a better chance of having them use or act on the information you present.
PRINCIPLE #2 BE YOURSELF
You are unique. You have your own way of speaking and your own mannerisms -- how you talk, how you stand, how you hold your hands. To convey your personality to a group, you must express yourself in a manner similar to the ways in which you express yourself one-on-one. If you are expressive with your hands one-on-one, it's OK to be expressive with your hands when talking to a group. In fact, it's essential. You know it's important to...
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