I was reading an interesting article by Peter Post in the Training magazine. He is the great-grandson of Emily Post. His article is on how to behave during a job interview. The 5 essential tips (in bold letters) he offers below strike me as totally applicable to making a presentation. I have applied his tips to presentations:
- Be on time. Never be late for your presentation. If you make your audience wait for you (even for 2 minutes), you are not showing them the respect that they deserve. After all, they did show up on time for YOUR presentation. So should you.
- Be prepared. Understand your topic and be prepared to answer any questions. Go over the possible questions and answers in your head and speak out loud. But do NOT memorize your presentation. You do not want to come across as a robot. Only excellent actors (and they are not too many of them) can memorize their lines and come across as genuine.
- Dress one notch up. Always come dressed one notch up. In other words, be slightly better dressed than your audience. That too is a sign of respect. You can always dress down afterwards. If none of your audience wears a tie, you get take off your jacket and tie after a few minutes into your presentation and roll up your sleeves. It will put the audience at ease too. It shows you are connecting with them.
- Look them in the eyes, smile and speak clearly. Look at the audience. Not at your screen. Make frequent eye contacts. It is called listening with your eyes. Get feedback DURING the presentation if you sense that the audience is not getting what you are saying. Invite the audience to ask questions during the presentation and not just at the end of your talk. Speak slowly – at a normal conversation. Remember – your presentation is a conversation with the audience. A lot of speakers speak too rapidly because they cram way too much stuff in their presentation. They feel that they have to cover the Universe’s entire body of knowledge on the topic in 50 minutes.
- Finally, thank them twice. Always thank your audience – twice. Once at the beginning for coming to hear your presentation. And thank them again at the end of your talk.