(Photo by Sanctu)
In two previous articles I covered the basics for writing your presentation (“Layer Your Presentation: Research“) and practicing your presentation (“Layer Your Presentation: Practice“). In this final article in the series, I cover the details of actually giving a great presentation.
Dress for success. The rule of thumb is to dress slightly better than your audience is dressed. If you dress down, you run the risk of a bad first impression. If you dress too nicely, people might assume that you’re not “one of them”. Feel free to break the dress rule – but with awareness.
Bring backups. Technology snafus happen all the time – so plan for the worst:
- Assume your slides are never sent to the right person for display.
- Assume your printed speech may be wet, missing pages, out-of-order, or misplaced.
- Assume your teleprompter text isn’t showing the most recent version of your speech.
- Assume your nice shirt or dress will have an obvious stain on it.
- Assume you won’t have time to eat before your speech.
- Assume you’ll get stuck in traffic or get lost in an unfamiliar city.
- Assume the lights will be hot and the room’s temperature will be uncomfortable.
- Assume your microphone’s volume won’t be set correctly.
- Assume there won’t be a glass of water to quench your dry mouth.
Be humble. Yes, someone asked you to speak. But remember that it’s unlikely about you – it’s about what your speech can do to help the event. So, be sure to proactively thank everyone on the production team – no matter how lowly they might appear. The production team are the unsung heroes – and you want them to root for you to succeed.
Remember to smile. For me, it’s hard to smile during a talk when I’m thinking about the myriad of other details to get right. A genuinely happy smile will likewise make your audience smile (from mirror neuron patterning) – and they’ll remember your presentation as more enjoyable.
Trying to perfect all of these steps on your first presentation is likely to be overwhelming – at first. I encourage you to gradually add more of these steps to your performance as other presentation skills become more natural.