4 Steps to an Effective Presentation

Guest Post By Stephanie Scotti.

Male elegant shoes and trousers.When you speak in a professional setting, your biggest goal is to communicate your message as effectively as possible. Effective presentations don’t just happen they are planned and studied.  Here are a few steps to making your presentation effective:

Be an expert.  Whatever topic you are planning to present, whether you are sitting in an important business meeting or speaking at a trade show to a crowd of thousands, know your topic inside and out.  Not only will you have more confidence in yourself as you communicate, but you’ll be prepared for any questions or comments that are asked.

Understand your audience.  To understand your audience, you need to take a moment and analyze the roles of those who will be in the audience and be prepared to answer their primary question:  What’s in it for me? Your audience must see that there is a clear benefit for them to listen.  Ask yourself:  What do my listeners want to know?  How does my presentation provide it to them?  Be sure you make the benefits crystal clear to your audience.

Practice your presentation.  Think of formal practice as a “dry run”, as close to the event setting as possible. It is here you take command of your material and technique. Your presentation should be practiced in front of a mirror or on a camera, or better yet, given to colleagues, friends, or family members who will give you clear and actionable feedback.

Become comfortable with your props.  Being unfamiliar with advancing your slides, or using other audio-visual aids / is distracting, and can erode both your self-confidence as well as your credibility with the audience. On the day of the presentation, arrive calmly and early.  Take time to decompress from your travels, visit the conference room ahead of time so you become familiar with your surroundings, and meet and greet your audience as they arrive.

Even the most polished of speakers can fumble and miss a crucial step to having an effective presentation, so prepare yourself each and every time to help ensure you are confident, heard and inspiring when you step up to speak.

Stephanie Scotti is a strategic communication adviser specializing in high-stake presentations. She has more than 25 years of coaching experience and eight years teaching presentation skills for Duke University. She has provided presentation coaching to over 3,000 individuals in professional practices, Fortune 500 companies, high-level government officials and international business executives. Learn more at www.professionallyspeaking.netand www.professionallyspeakingblog.com.

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