Monday, December 03, 2007

Keys to Organizing a Speech or Presentation - Step 3: Present

Step 3: Present

You have planned what you are going to communicate and you have prepared the message and the media you will use to deliver the information. Now it is time to stand before your audience and deliver the presentation. You are knowledgeable and prepared and now it is time to pay attention to the aspects of the process that will make you a successful and memorable speaker. Nobody wants to CAVE when the audience is waiting to hear what you have to say, so pay attention to:
C – Content
A – Appearance
V – Voice
E – Empathic Connection

The facts and figures you have prepared are the body of your presentation, but it also needs a compelling beginning and a memorable close. Make sure the audience knows who you are and why they should listen to what you have to say. Your identity and credibility are important components of the content. Once you have introduced yourself, express gratitude for being asked to present then start with something that grabs attention. This might be a startling or mysterious statement or a question that engages the audience. It might also be an anecdote or story of a dramatic incident. It should be relatable to the information you are going to present. At the close of the information succinctly summarize important points and loop back to your initial premise. You may also want to challenge the audience to act or you may want to offer inspiration.

Most of us do not need to be told to comb our hair and wash and iron the clothes we will wear to present. We know that appearance is important, but we may not realize that appearance is more than neat hair and clean clothes. Hair and attire needs to be appropriate and not draw attention from the words you speak. It should be tailored to the climate and the audience. The expression on your face is a very important part of appearance. The goal is to look pleasant and approachable, so no scowling. Hide nervousness by refusing to bite nails, wring hands or pace prior to speaking---no matter how overwhelming the need to do so. Before standing before the audience, stand in front of a mirror and check your appearance from the front, rear and sides. Make sure there is nothing caught in your teeth and your clothes hang correctly. Smile at yourself for good measure.

Voice includes speaking loudly enough and articulating words so they are understandable. It is also important to vary the tempo and modulation of your voice to maintain audience attention. If someone is sleeping in the third row, it is time to pick up the pace. Speaking softly can also help focus audience attention on important information. Inject your voice with excitement and speak in a confident manner.

Empathic Connection
All the preparation and attention to delivery will do no good if the audience is unwilling to listen. They need to like you, value what you have to impart and be ready to actively listen. Establishing an empathic connection with the audience is extremely important. The connection begins when you walk out in front of them (appearance) and builds as they judge your demeanor, hear your message (content) and evaluate your respect for and interest in your subject and in them (voice). Some additional ways to promote empathic connection are to share personal stories that establish you as colleague or fellow human, and to accurately express the concerns and hopes of the group to whom you are speaking.

So now you are ready to address the world. Just remember to Plan! Prepare! Present!

Beverly & Kristen

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