Give more effective presentations in English

The purpose of a presentation is communication.The ability to speak effectively is as crucial as the ability to write effectively, according to studies about kinds of communications most often required of employees.

During a routine week, employees will actually spend more time speaking than writing; using the phone; conversing informally with colleagues, subordinates, and superiors on routine office topics; conducting meetings; working in problem solving groups; conducting employee evaluation sessions; participating in teleconferences and sales presentations; and frequently becoming involved in formal speaking situations before groups inside and outside the organization. Communication research also reveals that the higher an employee moves in an organization, the more important speaking skills become.

Typical problems with presentations:

Poorly prepared displays (slides) and poor delivery plague many technical sessions at statistical meetings. The speaker often speaks too quickly or too quietly, or uses displays that cannot be read clearly. Presentations often are data dumps of the presenter's work, instersting only to the few other colleagues in the room currently working on the same problem. Other usually not familiar with the research area usually leave the session befuddled, dazed, and annoyed rather than enlightened and engaged.

Your presentation will be most effective when the audience walks away understanding the five things:

Remeber about visuals effect as they are an essential part of every presentation. They can add interest and excitement to your presentation and most importantly they're your key tool for helping the audience remember your message. Don't let the audience forget you
A major way to remain unforgettable to an audience is a "hook:" something unique about you or an uncommon approach to a common subject.

Being an effective speaker and an effective writer requires you to:

Analyze your audience

- How many people will be in attendance?
- What kind of work or profession do they do?
- What is their level of understanding about your subject?

Analyzing your situation is often difficult to separate from analyzing your audience; in fact, audience is one facet of the larger situation.

Just as readers determine the success of written communication, audiences determine the success of oral presentations. Writing or speaking is successful if the reader or listener responds the way you desire: the reader or listener is informed, persuaded, or instructed as you intend and then responds the way you want with good will throughout.

Just as writing effectively depends on you understanding your reader as thoroughly as possible, effective speaking depends on you understanding your listener. You cannot speak or write effectively to people without first understanding their perspective. You must know how your audience will likely respond based on its members' educational and cultural background, knowledge of the subject, technical expertise, and position in the organization.

When you analyze your audience, focus on its members' professional as well as personal attributes. Your audience members will pay attention to some things because they belong to a specific department or class; they'll react to other things because of their likes, dislikes, and uncertainties. You have to keep both profiles in mind. Your analysis will suggest what you should say or write, what you should not say, and the tone you should use.

To help you analyze your audience, ask the following questions:

In viewing this list, you will note the prevalence of questions on attitude-- the audience's attitude toward you as well as the subject. Some attitudes will matter more than others, according to the situation.

These questions are particularly crucial ones, since you need to know, before you begin planning your presentation, whether your audience will consider you trustworthy and credible. To be an effective speaker, you must know your audience, establish a relationship by being sincere and knowledgeable about the subject, then conform to their expectations about dress, demeanor, choice of language, and attitude toward them and the topic.

Understand the context of your presentation

In order to understand the situation or context of your presentation, ask yourself the following questions:

For example, delivering a presentation at a meeting of project directors is different from briefing other people in your team about what you've been doing. Making a presentation at a company picnic is different from delivering a presentation at the annual meeting of a professional society. Knowing the situation is as important as knowing your audience and your purpose. In many cases, situation will be inextricably bound up with questions of audience attitude and the way you shape your purpose. Audience attitude frequently results from situational problems or current issues within the organization, and what you can or should say in your presentation, your purpose and the content you choose to present may be dictated by the context surrounding your presentation and the perspective that your audience brings.

As a writer or a speaker, you must know your purpose.

You must conceive your purpose in terms of your audience's needs. Both written and oral communication often have multiple objectives . The main purpose of your presentation may be to report the status of a project, to summarize a problem, to describe a plan, or to propose an action, but your long-range objective may be to highlight or document important specific issues within the topic about which you are speaking and to further establish your credibility within the organization. You may want the audience to dislike another proposed solution, to desire a more comprehensive solution, or decide there isn't a problem after all.

As you plan, state your purpose in one sentence.

Then, as you begin your presentation, state your goal in terms of your audience's background and attitude; announce your purpose early in the presentation to prepare your audience for the main ideas to come. You may want to restate the purpose in words familiar to the audience.

Like the report or letter, the oral presentation must make its purpose clearly evident at the beginning . By knowing what they will be hearing from the beginning of the presentation, audience members can more easily focus their attention on the content presented and see connections between parts of the talk.

The effective presentation requires you to focus your audience's attention on what you are saying. A good way to grab your audience's attention is to develop a title that, at the very least, reflects the content of your presentation but does so in an interesting way. Like the title of a formal report or the subject line in a letter, memo, or informal report, the title of an oral presentation should prepare your audience for the content you will present. Therefore, from the beginning of the presentation, your audience is prepared for what you will say.

You may also wish to introduce your topic with an attention-getting device: a startling fact, a relevant anecdote, a rhetorical question, or a statement designed to arouse your audience's interest. Again, the device you choose will depend on the audience, the occasion, the purpose of the presentation.

Or, if your audience is not readily familiar with the subject, you may want to include background material to help them grasp and process your main points Tell your audience what points or topics you plan to cover so that your audience can sense and then follow the direction of your statements.

Organize your presentation

The structure of the oral presentation is crucial for one main reason: once you have spoken, the audience cannot "rehear" what you have said. In reading, when you do not understand a sentence or paragraph, you can stop and reread the passage as many times as necessary. When you are speaking, however, the audience must be able to follow your meaning and understand it without having to stop and consider a particular point you have made, thereby missing later statements. To help your audience follow what you say easily, you must design your presentation with your audience, particularly their listening limitations, in mind.

Audiences generally do not enjoy long presentations. Listening is difficult, and audiences will tire even when a presentation is utterly smashing. For that reason, as you design your presentation and select content, look for ways to keep your message as concise as possible. Don't omit information your audience needs, but look for ways to eliminate non essential material. Again, without carefully analyzing your audience's attitude toward the subject, its background, knowledge of the topic, and perspective toward you, you cannot begin to make accurate decisions regarding either content or design and structure of your presentation.

Ask yourself the following questions:

Helping your audience follow your message easily requires that you build into your structure a certain amount of redundancy. That means that you reiterate main points. When you divide your presentation into an introduction, the main body, and the conclusion, you are building in this necessary redundancy.

In the introduction, you "tell them what you are going to tell them"

In the main body, you "tell them"

In the conclusion, you "tell them what you told them"

This kind of deliberate repetition helps your audience follow and remember the main points you are making. (Readers can "reread" text, but listeners cannot "rehear" oral remarks.) To design your presentation with planned repetition, you must clearly know your purpose and what you want your audience to know.

The introduction should clearly tell the audience what the presentation will cover so that the audience is prepared for what is to come.

In planning your introduction, be sure that you state your goal near the beginning. Even if you use some type of anecdote or question to interest your audience, state the goal of your presentation next. Then, state how you will proceed in your presentation: what main issues you will discuss. The main ideas you have developed during the research and content planning stage should be announced here. Generally, the introduction should end with a reiteration of your main point.

The body should develop each point previewed in the introduction.

In the introduction you state the main issues or topics you plan to present. Thus, in designing the body of the presentation, you develop what you want to say about each of these main points or ideas. You may want to present your ideas in a chronological sequence, a logical sequence, or a simple topical sequence. This method will help your audience follow your ideas if you are giving an informative speech, an analytical speech, or a persuasive speech. The important point, however, is that you need to demarcate and announce each point in the body as you come to it so that your audience knows when you have completed one point and begun another.

The conclusion should reiterate the ideas presented and reinforce the purpose of the presentation. It usually answers the question: "so what?"

The conclusion to the presentation should help the audience understand the significance of your talk and remember main points. At a minimum, you should restate the main issues you want your audience to remember, but do so in a concise way. Try to find a concluding narrative or statement that will have an impact on your audience. The conclusion should not be long, but it should leave the audience with a positive feeling about you and your ideas.

The conclusion reinforces the main ideas you wish your audience to retain. Remember: in the introduction, you "tell them what you will tell them"; in the body, you "tell them"; and in the conclusion, you "tell them what you told them." In a presentation which has covered numerous points, you should be sure to reemphasize the main points. But the conclusion also allows you to emphasize the importance of specific ideas, or you can reiterate the value to the ideas you have presented. In short, how you design the conclusion will depend on your initial purpose. A strong conclusion is nearly as important as a strong introduction, as both the beginning and the end will be the parts most likely remembered

Carefully budget your time, especially for short (e.g., 15 minute) presentations: