YOU will have heard the quote, ‘theirs not to reason why.’ As you may know, it is a famous saying from Alfred, Lord Tennyson in his poem, The Charge of the Light Brigade. Of course, unlike the soldiers risking death in the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War, your audience won’t have been blindly led to your presentation not knowing what to expect. Hopefully they will know why they are coming to see you. And it is vitally important you are clear as to the purpose of your talk.
Are you conveying information? Or reporting something that’s happened? Or seeking to persuade your audience to a particular point of view? Maybe you are urging them to take action of some kind? There are many possible reasons for making a presentation. The important thing is to be clear about it.
Write yourself an explanation, in no more than a sentence, explaining why you’re making the presentation. What is it you are seeking to achieve? Make sure the aims and objectves are clear and specific.
Think about the setting, whether it be in your office for a small group, or for 100 people in a conference hall. Make sure you are familiar with the venue and check out any equipment you intend to use and make sure you know how to work it. Fumbling around for a control switch in front of your audience will lose you credibility and looks unprofessional.
Consider whether it is an informal or formal speech and try to avoid reading a prepared script. Having notes as prompts is a better idea and will help make your delivery sound more natural, or go the one step further that David Taylor advises and memorise your presentation
Cue cards can include headlines and key points although you will need to have a good understanding of the subject matter. Structured notes would ensure you don’t miss all the relevant detail although it might be a case of having to highlight the essential material in case you run out of time.
The crucial aspect to remember is that a presentation is a form of communication – and communication is a two-way process. Look around the room, not just at one part of the audience. Draw your audience in in by looking at different people for a few seconds so that they feel involved, at the front, middle and back of the room. And make sure the eyes have it. If people are looking at the ceiling or yawning, it is a fair bet you’re not exactly grabbing their attention!