Presentations

by Steve Roche

The logistics – a summary

The following checklists and notes summarise much of the material in this topic.

Before the day

  • Carefully check all practical details: including venue, time, date, duration, equipment and facilities.
  • Gather information about your brief and your audience.
  • Plan and write your talk, turning it into notes.
  • Rehearse until you are fluent, especially the beginning and end.
  • Prepare all that you need to take, including equipment, spares, presentation notes, exercises, demonstrations and handouts.

If you are travelling to give your presentation, ensure you know in advance exactly where you are going and how to get there, and the arrangements for parking, accommodation and refreshments. Check what equipment will be available and have contingency plans in case of problems.

On the day

  • Arrive early.
  • Walk the room; sit at the back and the sides to get that perspective.
  • Check the equipment, especially the projector, personal computer and microphone.

Look at the room you are using and assess what barriers to communication it might present:

  • Size, lighting, heating
  • Your speaking position
  • Arrangements for visual aids
  • Arrangement of chairs.

Decide what you can do to remedy any problems. Can you modify the lights or the temperature? Can you move chairs, projector, flipchart and so on so that people will be able to see and hear you better? How do you want people to be sitting? (What state do you want them to be in?)

  • Welcome nerves: it’s your optimum performance state.
  • Warm up your voice and your body.
  • Rehearse your opening and ending.
  • Check you have everything you need, such as clock, water, handouts, notes, glasses and so on.
  • Check your appearance, then forget about it.
  • Position yourself in front of furniture and visual aids.
  • Take a big breath, put on a big smile.

During the presentation

  • Act confidently; use your anchors.
  • Keep up your voice, enthusiasm and energy.
  • Monitor audience reactions.
  • If it’s not working, do something different.
  • Watch the time and be willing to cut.
  • If running late, negotiate.
  • If the audience is noisy, talk quietly or pause.
  • Finish strongly; end question time decisively.

Acting confident

To hide behind a table or lectern, hug the wall or cling to a flipchart stand is to announce yourself to the world as a terrified beginner. So force yourself out from behind the furniture to centre stage. Not only does it look better, it feels much better too.

Just afterwards

  • Congratulate yourself.
  • Have a drink of water.
  • Fulfil any immediate commitments.
  • Take time to warm down before you leave.

Stress and adrenaline will be high at the beginning and the end, so if you are driving, don’t get straight in the car – give yourself time to warm down.

After the day

  • Follow-up on everything you promised.
  • Review your performance.
  • Collect feedback.
  • Work with your coach, mentor or manager to develop and feed forward your learnings.

Review your performance against your personal objectives before you analyse feedback from others. Once you have decided how well you think it went, you can be more receptive and objective about other people’s reactions.

There are more checklists that may be useful in Meetings.