Kim Chamberlain Presentations trainer, speaker and author has been helping Rob develop his speaking and interview skills. Here Kim provides a guide on how to structure and present effectively to a group
Tip 1 Know your purpose
What is the aim of your presentation?
Is it, for example, to build your profile; give fans an update as to what is happening; encourage others to take up the sport; request sponsorship; raise the public’s level of understanding of the sport?
Spend time thinking about what you want to happen as a result of your presentation. What do you want the people in your audience to know, think, or do afterwards?
If you write down your purpose and keep it on display while preparing your presentation, it will keep you on track.
Tip 2. Know the situation
The more you know about your audience, the occasion and the environment beforehand, the more likely you are to give an appropriate presentation, and feel more at ease.
a) Your audience
Who is going to be there?
What are they expecting from you?
What do they know about your topic already?
What is their attitude likely to be towards you and your topic?
What is the age range?
What is the male/female ratio?
Are there language or cultural issues to take into account?
What is the educational background?
b) The occasion
What’s the occasion?
How formal or informal is it?
What are the organiser’s expectations of you and your presentation? (It may be different to what you were planning to do)
When are you speaking? If, for example, you are speaking after lunch or at the end of the afternoon, people’s energy may be low and you may need to amend your presentation to keep people’s energy up.
How long have you got? Will the time include a question and answer session?
Are there several other speakers? If so, where are you in the programme, who else is speaking, and what other topics are being covered?
c) The environment
What is the room layout? Can you change it if you need to?
What equipment is there? Do you know how to use it? Will there be a technical person there to help?
Will you need a microphone?
Tip 3. Know how to structure your presentation
A well-structured presentation helps people take on board your message.
Use a three-part structure: A short Opening, which takes up approximately 10% of your speaking time, a longer Body, approximately 80% of the time, and a short Ending, approximately 10% of the time.
The Opening has to get the group's attention, set the scene and introduce the topic or purpose. The opening isn’t just about the words you say, it’s also about how you come across to the audience. Do you look confident and knowledgeable? The judgements that people make on these two factors will have a bearing on how they take on board your message.
The Body comprises the main messages to get across: the key messages. A good number of key messages to split your message into, is between two and five. Any more than this and people will struggle to remember the points. Three is a useful number to use as the brain takes in and processes things in threes quite easily.
Each of these points will have supporting information. This could be in the form of a quote, statistics, a story or anecdote.
There are two main types of Ending: A summary, when we have given an information-based presentation, or a call to action (getting the audience to do something) when we have given a persuasive presentation. If you don’t ask people to do something, the chances are that they will do nothing and your message will be lost. What you would like the audience to do when you have finished speaking? For example, visit your website; take an information sheet; set up a meeting with you? Give your audience no more than three simple action steps they can easily achieve at the end of your presentation.
Tip 4. Know how to choose effective content
Many people either wonder what on earth they are going to talk about to fill up the speaking time, or else they have so much they want to say they don’t know how it’s all going to fit in.
This simple two-step method will help you decide what to include:
Step 1: Use a mindmap. In the middle of a piece of paper write down the title of your presentation, a brief description of your audience and of your purpose.
TITLE: Skiing as a hobby
AUDIENCE: Teenagers at college
PURPOSE: To let the group know what skiing involves, and inspire them to consider it as a hobby
Then write down all the items you could cover. For example: the fun aspects; fitness; where to do it; costs; equipment, etc
Step 2: If there are too many items, narrow it down by putting them into categories:
The ‘Must’ category. i.e. the most important points, which must be covered as they are the key messages. If you are giving a short presentation this will be all you are able to cover. Remember to aim for two to five points.
The ‘Should’ category. The next most important points. You can cover these if you have enough time.
The ‘Could’ category. The least important points, and you will only cover them if you have a long presentation.
Tip 5. Collect supporting information
As you go through your sporting career, keep hold of items which can be used to enhance your presentations. For example stories; anecdotes; photographs; videos; newspaper articles; awards; medals; clothing or equipment.
Audiences love to see or listen to interesting aspects. Choose the most appropriate ones for each presentation you give.
Tip 6. Keep your audience interested
To keep your audience interested, you need to have variety!
There are three ways to add variety to your delivery:
• How you look: Do you have facial animation, eg smiling? Do you use natural gestures? Do you move around?
• How you sound: Do you vary the speed and volume of your speaking? Do you have a conversational tone to your voice?
• What you do: For example, Use visuals such as photos, video, charts, props, PowerPoint, whiteboard, flipchart; Use music; Tell a story
Tip 7. Build your confidence
There are many wasy to reduce nerves and build confidence. They include:
• Know as much as you can about giving presentations. Attend a training course; undertake coaching
• Know your topic thoroughly
• Practice your presentation
• Speak on a regular basis. This will build your skills and give you an understanding of audiences and what they want. It’s better to say something even if it’s not perfect in the beginning, than to not speak up at all.
• Focus on the needs of the audience, not on yourself, otherwise your nerve will increase
• Burn off nervous energy by doing some exercise as close as possible to the time of your presentation
• Or reduce the nerves by doing a relaxation exercise beforehand
Tip 8. Prepare well
A good presentation is like the tip of an iceberg – what people see is only a small part of the work that goes into it.
The more preparation you put in the better it will be. Take your time, think it through. What is going to best meet your and the audience’s needs? What visual aids are you going to use?
Are you likely to be asked questions? Think about what they may be and work out your answers.
Tip 9. Practice
Once you’ve prepared your presentation, the golden rule is Practice – Practice – Practice. Know your presentation inside out and back to front.
This will increase your confidence and professionalism.
Tip 10. Afterwards
If possible, ask someone to give you feedback – what went well and what could be improved?
Alternatively, give yourself feedback. Imagine that you had to give that presentation again. What worked well, that you would keep the same? What one or two aspects could you change to make it better next time?
Don’t aim to be perfect, aim to improve.
Kim Chamberlain is a trainer in presentation skills, an international conference speaker and author.
You can find more articles on her Successful Speaking website http://www.successfulspeaking.biz/newsletters/