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Five Keys to Making Successful Presentations

I still remember one of my first professional presentations, videotaped without my knowledge, at a national sales conference. I had never had any training or experience presenting, and when I saw the video of my presentation, I knew I had to make changes -- or fear speaking for the rest of my career.

Are you one of those folks who dread public speaking? Have you been asked -- or required -- to make a presentation? No worries, as I have witnessed (and/or graded) thousands of presentations in my professional career, and offer my five strategies for making a successful presentation.

Five Strategies on How to Have a Successful Presentation

1. Well-planned. The strongest presentations are those that are grounded in planning. Before doing any work on developing your presentation, get all the key information, including the time limit, technology available, audience details, and any other requirements.

The more you know about the time, place, and audience, the better you will be able to plan your presentation.

2. Well-researched. Unless you are speaking entirely about yourself, you'll want to back up what you plan to say with accurate and current information.

Schedule plenty of time early in your preparation schedule to conduct research on your subject, perhaps even developing a leave-behind with key sources/citations.

3. Well-prepared. Once you have all your research, you now have to map out your presentation -- focusing on the beginning (introduction and overview), the middle (focusing on x-number of points depending on the length of your presentation), and the end (in which you summarize and wrap up).

If you are doing a slideshow, remember to keep the slide design simple, keep the amount of information on each slide to a minimum with one idea per slide, and plan on spending about 1-2 minutes per slide.

4. Well-rehearsed. Once your presentation is finalized initially, your next step is getting to know the presentation as deeply as you can. You do not need (or want) to memorize your presentation, but you want to know what you are presenting intimately. The key? Practice, practice, practice.

The more you rehearse your speech, the more you will refine and smoothen little elements of the core speech... and the better you'll perform it at the actual presentation. Rehearsing also helps eliminate pause words, such as like, ah, um, uh.

5. Well-presented. Rehearsing enough should give you the confidence to do well and hopefully allow you to get a good night's rest before the day of the presentation. Remember to dress appropriately for your audience.

Once you're ready to present, remember these final tips:

  • Introduce yourself and your presentation topic
  • Keep calm and relaxed, but stay high-energy in your delivery
  • Focus on your posture, voice, and hand gestures; keep the audience engaged
  • Make eye contact with audience members around the room
  • If using a slideshow, never turn your back on your audience, and never read your slides

Final Thoughts on Making Successful Presentations

Always, always, always have a back-up plan -- or multiple plans. For example, if you emailed your presentation to the organizer, bring it along on a flash drive AND keep a version in the cloud.

Remember that technology often fails, which means you also must be prepared to present without your slideshow. Consider using handouts -- both as a valuable leave-behind for audience members, but also as a presentation outline if you can't use your slideshow.

Finally, if you have no real experience in giving presentations or speeches and are more nervous about that aspect than anything else, consider attending or joining a local Toastmasters club -- a non-profit group that is all about encouraging and helping people become more comfortable speaking before an audience. Learn more in my article, Why Toastmasters? Five Reasons to Join a Toastmasters Club.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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