Great content is important for your presentation, but great content is not enough.
Great content poorly delivered will not be well received.
Great content without application may appear useless to the audience members.
Great content that does not connect to their world is often lost on the crowd.
Great content is a good start and it is important that you continue to develop your content. It is equally, if not more important, that you also work to enhance your delivery of the content.
Enhancing your delivery means:
- Continually assessing the stories you tell. Are the stories relevant or are you telling stories for the sake of telling stories? Are they engaging? Do they connect with the audience so they can imagine themselves in the story? Is there a clear connection between the story and the content?
- If you use PowerPoint or Keynote as part of your presentations you need to ensure the slides are engaging and utilize high resolution, relevant photos and are not simply filled with slides full of 12 font text. Any text on the slides should be a minimum of 32 font. Start the journey to enhancing your PowerPoint / Keynote presentations by reading Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds.
- Study and practice your content to the point you know it so well that you do not have to be continually turning your back to the audience to look at the slides. I am not talking about memorizing your presentation. I am talking about knowing your content at a very deep level so you can explain it in different ways and answer questions on the content.
- If you have words on the slide (words should be few and usually just key words or quotes) stop talking long enough to let people read it themselves and then talk about it instead of reading every word on every slide to the audience.
- Find ways to engage the audience. The methods for doing this will vary depending on the length of your presentation, the size of the audience and configuration of the room.
- Build in a break every 50 to 60 minutes to allow people to get up, stretch, check their phones and use the bathroom. As basic as this sounds, I still experience speakers who do not give breaks. Telling people you are going to power through the four hours of content and if they need to use the washroom they can get up and go is disrespectful to the audience. People needs breaks to process the information, stretch, and use the bathroom. If there are no breaks they are concerned about disrupting the presentation, crawling over other people to get out or missing key information while they are in the bathroom.
- Review and edit your content to ensure that you have an appropriate amount of content for the time you have allotted. If you normally do an 8 hour class but only have 2 or 4 hours with this group then cut down the content to fit that time slot. Do not show up with the 8 hour presentation and try to cram it into 2 or 4 hours.
- Know how to skip or drop slides if you run out of time instead blasting through the slides telling the audience you do not have enough time to cover that material. Every speaker has been caught with too much information for the allotted time. This happens for a lot of reasons and you need to know how to jump ahead in the middle of a presentation or hide slides on the break so the audience does not know.
- Be early and finish on time. Get to the venue or the room early so you can set up and test your AV so you know everything works in that venue including your video and sound. Finish on time. You can use your full time, but always finish on time. It is disrespectful to the audience to go over your allotted time and it is disrespectful to the speaker following you to cut into their time. If the speaker before you goes late it is on you to cut down your presentation and finish on time.
It is easy to fall into the trap on becoming so focused on developing either content or delivery that the other one suffers. You owe it to your audiences to continually seek to in develop both areas and do your best to ensure the environment is conducive to learning.
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