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  Presentation Skills

Being expected to both write and give a presentation can be a frightening prospect, especially if you are unaccustomed to public speaking. The following notes are designed to give you guidance on the key points to bear in mind when presenting.

Firstly, it is essential that you are absolutely clear as to the purpose of the presentation. What are you trying communicate, why and what outcome do you expect from it. If possible, try to distil the whole essence of the presentation into a single strapline. You can then use this strapline at the beginning of your presentation to clearly communicate the objectives and content of your presentation with your audience. Following on from this, try to ensure that your presentation takes a simple and logical structure and again explain this structure to your audience at the outset.

The next most important point to bear in mind is who your audience are. In order to present effectively it is essential that your tailor your presentation to be relevant to your audience. Be conscious of the language you use and the level of information supplied. Try to ensure that the level of information communicated is appropriate to the level of your audience, if you fail to do this they will probably become bored and unreceptive.

When writing a presentation, remember ‘KISS’ – keep it short and simple. Try to clearly communicate your points and avoid using ‘jargon’ unless it is essential and you are confident that it will be relevant and understood by your audience.

Engage your audience by looking at them and appearing to make eye contact. If this is a particularly difficult thing for you to do, try to find a sympathetic looking face in the audience and focus on them, alternatively a point on the far wall of the room will do. Don’t look at the floor, or the ceiling and try to avoid fiddling with your watch strap or the change in your pocket, for example, as this can be extremely irritating and will make it clear that you are nervous and uncomfortable presenting.

Be conscious of the image you are portraying, both in the way you dress, the way you present yourself and your body language. Wear something you feel comfortable in and try to ensure that your dress is appropriate for the situation. If you have the opportunity to do so, try video taping yourself so that you can look objectively at how you present. This will help you to pick up on any irritating mannerisms, and your ability to engage your audience. One thing to be conscious of is the speed at which you speak. Try to slow down. If you speak at your normal speed, you will appear to be hurried and important points could potentially be lost. Especially as it can be very tempting to speak quickly to get the whole ordeal over as quickly as possible!

In order to continue to engage your audience for the full duration of your presentation, remember to include relevant visual aids, such as pictures, graphs and charts. Also, try to include some remarkable items, for example: a stunning picture; a surprising fact or a shocking statistic.

Be succinct and try to keep your presentation short and to the point, be conscious of the attention span of your audience. If your presentation is longer than twenty minutes try to break it up in some way, either by including an interactive session with your audience, or changing presentation media.

Finally and potentially most importantly of all, remember to present with passion!

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