CREATING a significant impression of an individual, group or an organization is supported by great presentation skills. In today’s world ‘giving presentation’ has become a common phenomenon, but it requires enormous discipline, practice and preparation to make it perfect. One has to take both mental and physical preparations. In order to remain relaxed and comfortable while giving a presentation or while explaining a problematic passage; the speaker may ‘speech practice’ in front of a mirror, a friend or even a pet animal. First time speakers should rehearse as many times as possible. Once speaker gets comfortable with speaking in front of the audience, he or she will automatically feel more confident the next time.
PowerPoint presentation can be used in most cases to make the presentation more appealing, easily understandable, and more effective. It is popularly used for public speaking, seminar, workshop, school project, training or even official meeting. It helps to provide an audio-visual presentation aiding the audience to get a clear picture of the speech rather than only hearing it constantly. To prepare for a successful PowerPoint presentation, the presenter should always consider two important things:
- a) The making of the PowerPoint slides, and
b) Presenting it to the audience
Making of the PowerPoint Slides:
- Use appropriate slide design: Designing the slides with a nice background picture or a meaningful theme, which will attract the readers immediately.
- Use appropriate fonts: It is better to use a sans serif font for titles (e.g., Arial,) and a serif font for bullets, body text or chart labels (e.g., Times New Roman) to make the slides easily readable. The serifs help to recognize the characters (and thus the words) faster. Ideally, the font size should be 30.
- Avoid title capitalization: It is better to avoid “title capitalization” frequently unless it is a title.
- Show pictures: Visualization is more powerful rather than slides full of texts. It attracts people’s attention easily and makes the subject matter more conceivable.
- Avoid paragraphs or long blocks of text: Paragraphs or long blocks of text should be avoided as much as possible. It is recommended to use a couple of sentences, emphasize on the main points.
- Avoid detailed reports: If a presenter needs to include a report in his or her presentation, it is better to hand it out so that the audience have focus on the parts based on their own interest.
- Keep file size manageable: Avoid this issue by using smaller picture file types and using native PowerPoint features whenever possible (such as tables, charts and AutoShapes) instead of embedding and importing objects.
- Keep things simple: The whole presentation should be kept very simple; thus, the presenter should cut down the unnecessary slides.
- Do not give PowerPoint center stage: A speaker is the main focus of the presentation, not the slides. No amount of “razzle dazzle” can overcome a weak presentation. If the presenters do not do their job, PowerPoint cannot save them. It only makes a bad presentation worse.
Presenting to the Audience:
- Show up early: It can help the speaker to solve unexpected problems with lighting, room assignments, equipment and so forth.
- Physical appearance: Grooming and wearing formal attire is important to create a good image to the audience. Presenter should stand away from the podium, to communicate better with the audience.
- Hydrate: Presenter should drink sufficient fluid to keep out dryness, and thus, enhance a better and clearer speech.
- Start strong: At times presenters forget to introduce themselves and start in a rather abrupt manner; this can be avoided by being a bit more confident or by simply starting with a joke or an interesting story related to the subject matter.
- Outline the presentation and manage time: It can be helpful if the presentation is split into different parts like introduction, objectives, content and conclusion, then, allocating a time frame for each division to finish the speech within the stipulated time.
- Tell a story and provide examples: Reading the slides are not helpful hence the presenter can address the topic of the slide, and then explain it thoroughly with some relevant examples.
- Pause: When the speaker says something important, it is recommended to take a pause. Let it hang there for a few seconds that will make the audience to think about it for a while.
- Keep up with the audience: The speaker should remember the ‘target audience’. If the audiences are already familiar to the subject, he should not bore them with unnecessary basic information.
- Use humor: Humor that is carefully woven into a presentation can be like a bell that the speaker can ring from time to time to keep up the audience’s interest until the end of the whole presentation. Humor related to racism, sexism, homophobia, or religious intolerance must be avoided at all costs.
- Distribute a handout and leave a trace: A handout of the presentation will help to jog the audience’s memory later and more importantly to convey some credibility.
- Don’t apologize: The speaker should not apologize for any unintentional problems.
- Welcome questions: If the presenter does well, he or she will be asked a lot of questions. Thus, the speaker should always welcome a “question and answer (Q&A) session” as a part of the presentation, so that, people can have a clear idea about the whole project.
- End strong and finish early too: The speaker should end the presentation with enough confidence like, “…so that’s why I like youth’s empowerment and activism. I appreciate your attention today. Thank you”. Finishing early leaves more time for questions, and shows appreciation and respect towards the audience.
This article was originally published in Star Campus, a weekly feature of The Daily Star.