If you are presenting for the first time or if you have only presented a few times, Stone suggests rehearsing your presentation with a friend or colleague recording it. “They can provide constructive feedback along with the video recording,” said Stone, adding that recording also helps you gauge for time constraints.
Explore This IssueDecember 2016
Simon is also a proponent of practicing. “One time I completed my presentation in less than 10 minutes because I spoke too fast. But, after practicing, I was able to spend more time elaborating on what I wanted to say. Another time, my PowerPoint presentation froze, but because I rehearsed my slides I was able to speak from memory,” he said.
The best presenters are those who present frequently and keep tweaking their presentations based on audience reactions. “This is the same methodology followed by successful stand-up comedians, i.e., find out what works and what doesn’t work and adjust accordingly,” said Lizotte.
When delivering a speech, be sure to speak at a pace that is comfortable and engaging. “Vary your voice inflection, and use pauses and variations in pace to avoid sounding monotone,” Stone said. “Project your voice and carefully enunciate your words.”
Allot time for questions, if applicable. “I prefer to go over rather than under in terms of content, in case the presentation goes too fast or if there are few questions,” Stone added. “I can always omit a few parts if I run out of time. But don’t add fluff or filler content simply to fill time.”
If it looks like your talk might run overtime, interject something like, “I have one more point to make” or “I will hurry through my last five slides,” Lizotte advised. In other words, convey to your audience that you know you may exceed the time but will not do so by much. Your audience will forgive you and won’t mind giving you a few more minutes.
Find a statistic or outrageous example of a main point pertaining to your topic or a scenario of something that could happen but that could have also been prevented. This technique will immediately get your audience’s attention. —Ken Lizotte
Humor can serve as a great icebreaker and will keep the presentation interesting and engaging. “I always try to inject humor at the beginning, and then use it a few times during the presentation,” Stone said.
Dr. Hausfeld also loves injecting humor. “I’m always on the lookout for a good opening joke and a good ending one that will leave the audience smiling, and hopefully more knowledgeable in the topic I discussed,” he added. “But be careful not to use politically charged stories or ones that could be offensive.”