So, you’ve written your report – all the facts correct, written in perfect English and clearly set out – and then you’re asked to stand up and present it verbally, as well as distributing it on paper. I can hear you groaning! Many otherwise confident people start to quake when they know they’ve to address an audience.
It’s a peculiar thing that people are quite at ease when talking to a group of their friend, but find it hard to talk on the same subject when faced with strangers. The moment they have to stand up and talk, easy words become hard to say!
So, to avoid that sinking feeling here are some suggestions.
The first, and most important tip is: Prepare thoroughly – present effectively. In a presentation you can’t go back to explain things for the audience – so you should speak in such a way that the listener understands everything you say the first time. To make sure this happens:
* Speak at a reasonable speed – not too fast and not too slow
* Pronounce your words clearly
* Don’t read directly from your notes (the audience may suspect you don’t know your subject properly).
Good organisation of material also helps the audience to understand. So remember to do the following:
* Organise your information logically
* Give a clear introduction and state each point in your talk clearly
* Summarise the main points again in your conclusion.
* Use simple language
* Look directly at your audience so that they feel you are addressing them personally
* Make sure the key message is plain, then summarise the important facts and repeat where necessary. Remember this quote: First tell them what you’re going to tell them. Then tell them. Finally, tell them what you’ve told them!
End positively and memorably by recommending a course of action or proposing the next step. Distribute your written report and ask if there are any questions. Always listen carefully to the questions and rephrase them if they aren’t clear. Make your answers as simple and brief as possible – never be aggressive or defensive. If you don’t know the answer to a question, admit this and offer to find out – don’t waffle. Try to be relaxed and answer politely and confidently.
And finally, one ‘don’t’: Don’t say too much!