Presenting: An Art

Presenting is something that unfortunately you will have to do basically all your life, or at least until you retire. Even when you get out of undergrad and you think you’re done presenting, you’re not. You still will have presentations when you get a job and depending on your career path, you might have more than one presentation a week. It’s a good skill to have because even if you’re not doing a presentation, it’ll help you in your everyday conversations. Knowing how to talk to others will come in handy every day of your life, so it’s good to develop those skills now.

I found a good article called 8 Tips on Giving a Presentation Like a Pro that gave a list of things to do to have a good presentation.

  1. Properly prepare. This includes the obvious fact that you need to prepare your presentation, but you also need to prepare by figuring out who you’re going to be talking to. Find out what their position is, and why they are in that meeting. If you’re presenting to a group of CEOs, the presentation will look different than if you’re doing it in front of your peers.
  2. Start with a bang, not a whimper. It’s important to choose how you open your presentation wisely because you need to set it off on a high note. Don’t start with “Let’s get started”, because that doesn’t grab people’s attention which is what you’re trying to do.
  3. Recognize that the space is part of your presentation. Like Deloy talked about in class, the way you set up the room is important. If you set it up to where some people are facing away from you, you will lose their attention before you even begin.
  4. Get rid of PowerPoint. This is one I don’t necessarily agree with because I think some sort of visual aid is a good thing. But, they talk about how it’s smart to have a handout or something like that so it makes them want to track along with you.
  5. Make it a conversation, not a presentation. You need to interact with your audience to keep their attention and make sure they’re involved.
  6. Use stories. Everyone loves stories (except maybe some technical people) because it makes it more relatable and entertaining. The stories have to relate somehow, but if you can find something to relate with them on, you’re set.
  7. Get some coaching. Every speaker needs to know the things that will make them successful and having a mentor or something to help you with that process could be really good for you.
  8. Evaluate. When you have a presentation, have someone review you to see what you could improve on and what you did well.

I talked with my friend and amazing speaker Sarah Stone, and she gave me a list of things that she uses to make sure her sermons (she’s a pastoral ministry major) are received well.

  1. Choose one person in the audience to make direct eye contact with, and the rest of them just look at the top of their foreheads. This keeps the audience engaged, while still having you feel comfortable giving the presentation.
  2. Talk slowly. When you blaze through it, it makes it hard for them to track along with you. It makes a 20 minutes presentation 5 minutes and it ends up being lame.
  3. Articulate your points well. You need to really make sure you emphasize a few takeaways from your presentation.
  4. Use pauses wisely. This is important because you can have the audience think about certain things for longer than others when you pause and give them time.

These are a few things to help you crush your presentation, so use these tips wisely.