Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Improve Your Office Presentation

When it is time for you to make a presentation to your business colleagues, owners, or customers, it's important to do your very best. While this type of situation can make you nervous, there are things that you can do to make the presentation enjoyable and successful. Knowing what actions you can take can help you do a better job and give you the confidence to give a powerful and effective presentation.

1) Make it applicable for your audience. Let's say that you are speaking to a group of business owners to convince them to integrate a new mobile application development program into the company. They are going to be concerned about the usability of such a program, how it will affect the overall company and how much it will cost. If you are speaking to a group of office workers about the same idea, however, their interests will be very different. They will likely ask questions about how they will be involved in the process and how their jobs will be easier due to the changes. Your audience should always feel that you understand their needs and concerns and they should be addressed accordingly.

2) Be organized. It's important that you are organized and prepared whenever you are making a presentation. Come to the meeting early to get your thoughts and materials together. Unforeseen situations can occur at any time or place. The more prepared you are, the less likely you will get stressed. If you are organized, you will be more confident and able to give a better presentation.

3) Use visuals to hold attention. It's always a good idea to have visuals when you give a presentation. The most important reason for visuals is because it helps hold the attention of the audience. People will feel more involved in the presentation if they can follow along on an overhead screen or hold a handout. Also, after the meeting is over, a visual will help them remember what you talked about.

4) Speak clearly and confidently. It's a good idea to go over your presentation privately before you present it at a meeting. You can work through your materials and how you want to explain things to others. Be prepared and organized enough that you can speak with confidence. If you yourself doubt your ideas or products or haven't yet worked through things, you will flounder when speaking and it will be obvious to others. Speak confidently and even ask for questions to clear up any misunderstandings or confusion.

5) Make it simple for anyone to understand. It's important to keep things as simple as possible when preparing your presentation. In fact, the KISS theory is best - "Keep it simple, stupid" - because you don't need to use elaborate words and/or thoughts to make your point. Speak in simple words and use diagrams that people can easily follow.

6) Keep it interesting. Isn't it common to hear people complaining about how boring company meetings are? It's become a joke because meetings are inherently a task to be hated. Most of the reason is because meetings are boring to everyone except the person giving the presentation. You can change this by giving a presentation that is interesting. Keeping your audience in mind will help, along with watching throughout the presentation to see what they are doing. If they appeared bored, it may be time to move more quickly through the material or ask questions. If they are involved, they will be more eager to participate and stay alert.

7) Add appropriate humor. Don't be afraid to use some humor when giving your presentation. While you should never offend anyone or be rude, you can tell a story or quote that may help lighten the mood. People don't usually want to change and oftentimes, meetings and presentations represent change. Keep in mind that many of the people in your meeting would rather be doing something else, so make it as enjoyable and interesting as possible.

8) Be prepared for the unpredictable and respond appropriately. Many times, something will happen for which you were not prepared. Someone may get sick, you may lose a paper or mispronounce a word, or you may have to wait while your boss takes an important phone call. These things happen, so remember to keep your cool and make the best of things.

9) Be excited about your project and/or ideas. Be aware of your voice when you are speaking. Do you drone or speak too slowly? Do you talk too fast? A good pace will help your presentation move along at a comfortable speed and keep your audience's attention. Again, practice makes perfect.

10) Make your audience comfortable. What kind of seats are in the meeting room? People will not be listening to you if they are uncomfortable, but will just be wanting to leave. Ergonomic chairs will give your audience the ability to be comfortable enough to want to stay and listen to your presentation. If your presentation will be made around a table, then use conference tables that are large and comfortable. Make sure that everyone is comfortably seated, quiet and ready to listen before you begin your presentation.

While giving presentations may be stressful and nerve-wracking, you can relieve some of this stress by being prepared and relaxing. Most likely, your audience will enjoy hearing what you have to say if you speak in an interesting and entertaining manner. Remember to practice beforehand and have notes handy in case you lose your train of thought. By following these simple steps, you will give a presentation that is not only successful, but also enjoyable.

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