Presentation Skills – The tips and tricks

In persuit to develop my presentation skills I have decided to give my brain good two weeks to learn this trick of the trade. So I shall be searching the net for quality information on presentation skills to compile this pack for anyone willing to become a good presentet plus I shall be incorporating my learning from a recent course at Learning Tree International.

Well here is something very interesting I found on and I think its worth looking at.

The “3-1-2” method

It is a refinement of the “Tell’em” method. All presentations should have three parts–a beginning, a middle, and an end. Most people start drafting their presentation by writing in the order in which they will deliver the presentation–(1) the introduction, (2) the body, and (3) the conclusion. This “1-2-3” method is intimidating, like standing at the bottom of a steep hill and envisioning the long climb to the top. Just thinking about the task can cause procrastination. When finally initiated, the “1-2-3” system can lead to false starts because it lacks focus.

The “3-1-2” method, in contrast, is less intimidating and results in a focused presentation with thematic unity, so necessary in an oral presentation. Start your draft with the “bottom line” conclusion (#3), then develop an opening (#1) that grabs the attention of the audience, spells out the benefits they will achieve by listening to you, and tells them what you are going to address. By starting with your conclusion, you now have a destination–you know where you are heading with your presentation. With the beginning and ending on paper, your task of enumerating supporting data and arguments (#2) will be much easier. It will be like standing on top of the hill and contemplating your descent to the bottom–not as intimidating as the “1-2-3” method from the bottom of the hill.

Here is where a lawyer’s education and experience can be very beneficial in the boardroom. The “3-1-2” system derives from a concept with which lawyers are very familiar–the “Doctrine of Recency and Primacy.” As trail lawyers know so well, juries–and probably senior corporate officers–tend to pay more attention to what they hear at the beginning and the end of presentations, with much less comprehension during the middle. Thus the importance attached by lawyers to their opening statement–their version of ” Tell’em what your are going to tell’em” and their final summation to the jury–the “Tell’em what you told’em/ Placing the focal point of the presentation at the end and the beginning of the presentation increases the likelihood the audience will listen, retain, and act upon this message which is supported by the elaboration of the supporting evidence in “2.”

Prepare your draft

Some people are more comfortable drafting the text of their presentation in full. This allows for a more complete exposition of the data. But it also means that you may use language and syntax more appropriate for the written rather than the spoken presentation, which can be confusing to the ears of the audience. A “main point” outline is an alternative that will allow you to move more directly to “spoken,” more conversational, language.

As you prepare your draft, use the active voice and concrete, not abstract, language. Use declarative, but not compound, sentences. Give specific examples, and do not be afraid to tug at the heart strings of your audience. Your message, and the words that convey it, must be grasped by these listeners when you say them. They cannot do an “instant replay.” Know the audience members needs and concerns, and frame your “case” in such a way that your presentation solves these needs/concerns. Make it easier for audience members to remember what you want them to remember with stories and anecdotes that emphasize your main points. These illustrations can be the glue that makes the main points “stick” in the minds of your listeners.

Confidence building – the real thing

After completing the draft–verbatim or outline–reduce your presentation to 3×5 cards with large-lettered “memory joggers”. Then practice by yourself in front of a mirror, with tape recorder, or better yet with a video camera. Listen for your pace, your inflection, your enthusiasm, and if you are using “uh,” “er,” “you know,” or other fillers that render the otherwise intelligent person appear illiterate. See how much better you would sound if you replaced these sounds with pauses. If videotaping, watch your body language, facial expression, and gestures.

See where visuals can be inserted. These visuals should be thought of as exclamation points or highlighted sections of your presentation. Make them simple and interesting–be careful of organization charts and “laundry lists.” Use large lettering (better to have large letters written with a magic marker than small letters from a computer.) Use only the top two-thirds of the transparencies (so people in the rear can read without being required to stand) and use telegraphic language, limiting letters to minimum necessary. Use color if you can.

For overhead transparencies, use the “revelation technique” when you have a “bullet outline.” Tape strips of cardboard along the side of the vu-graph, keeping points on the visual covered until you discuss them. This will keep your audience focused on the point you are emphasizing, rather than reading point four while you are still talking about point one. Check the alignment of your vu-graph on the projector so that it appears straight on the screen. This may require you to place an “L-shaped” tape guide on the glass. Then orient your overheads in relation to this newly-created frame, and you will not have to check that the visual is “squared away” on the screen. Some audience members could be annoyed and distracted by visuals that appear crooked on the screen. The above advice can, of course, also be applied when using a computer-driven presentations program such as PowerPoint.

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