Speaking to an audience is a very scary experience. This is one reason that there are paid speakers to kick off an event. Those folks are the ones on stage, informing and entertaining an audience. They also have special skills that not every has, either naturally or trained.
But this is not about professional speaking. Those are advanced skills. This is for the average person who has to give a presentation during a meeting with clients or colleagues. It’s likely a presentation consisting of a dozen or so PowerPoint slides on a business topic. A status report or end of quarter re-cap of numbers is quite typical. A kick-off presentation for a new project is another common one.
I’m not going into the details of creating good PowerPoint presentations. There are plenty of online resources for that. What I’m talking about is when the presenter starts talking. From my experience, most PowerPoint presentations are given in conference rooms where the participants sit around a large table and the PowerPoint display (on a wall or other type of screen) is the focus of attention.
If there is only one presentation to give, it’s important that the presenter sits closest to the screen. This serves two functions. First, it allows the presenter to turn his head to face the participants. This part is incredibly important as I will explain below. Second, if the presenter is closer to the screen, the focus of the participants isn’t split too much. As an aside, it’s easier for the presenter to see the screen. Hey, our eyes are getting older and less strong! I speak from direct experience on this one.
If there a multiple presenters, the head of the meeting might just move around the table, letting each presenter do his or her thing. This presents a challenge to each presenter. A suggestion at the beginning of the meeting/presentation, someone should suggest a presenter’s chair. Of course, this might be not feasible because of cable length connection. The work around is for the presenter to direct someone else to advance the slides on whichever computer the PowerPoint file is accessed.
The purpose of a presentation is to convey information and most importantly, hold the attention of the participants. Without that attention, the information is not fully conveyed and, in effect, the presentation didn’t succeed. The source material is the responsibility of the presenter. How well that material is delivered is also the responsiblity of the presenter.
The most important way to hold someone’s attention is eye contact. This is why is so vital for the presenter to be close to the display screen. People’s attention too easily wanders when the screen is too far away from the presenter. This also means that the presenter can’t be staring solely at the display. So, the presenter must know his presentation well so he can look at the audience. One of the big mistakes that presenters make is to only look at one person. It is absolutely important that the presenter makes a point to look at all the people in the room at some point, preferably at many points during the presentation.
The second point of attention is the voice. The biggest complaint from presentation participants is that the presenter has a flat, monotone voice. This can be remedied by watching and copying actors deliver good dialog. This doesn’t mean being overly dramatic while delivering a presentation. It’s not a Shakespeare play, just some PowerPoint slides. Just learning when to pause and when to enunciate the correct words and phrases really serve to hold the participants’ attention and focus. I’ve written about voice control previously.
This helps with man’s overall attractiveness outside of work. Good presentation skills are often seen as good leadership skills. Ever seen a successful CEO speak? Most often, that CEO has a very excellent presence while speaking. That CEO started with ordinary presentations, back in the days of PowerPoint 1.0 (if there was such a thing).
Delivering good presentations builds confidence and subsequent leadership. These are serious attraction points in a man. These are also good for a man’s career or his entrepreneurial endeavors. Even post-divorce, these characteristics can be learned and practiced.
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